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05/12/2022 Iran (International Christian Concern) – Iranian-Armenian Anooshavan Avedian was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He, alongside two members of his house church, Abbas Soori and Maryam Mohammadi, was also given a 10-year “deprivation of social rights” upon their release. Abbas and Maryam were fined $2000 USD each and also faced two-year international travel bans, membership of any political or social group, and of their homes in Tehran.

The three were first arrested in August 2020, although their case was only recently made public, according to Article 18. Around 30 agents raided a gathering of about 18 Christians at Anooshavan’s home. Bibles and communication devices were confiscated, and all in attendance had to submit forms of all personal information. The others in attendance were forced to sign commitments to avoid fellowship with Christians and churches. The hearing occurred on April 10, and the courts announced the verdict the next day.

Five Christians were also arrested in Rasht. On May 8, Behnam Akhlaghi and Babak Hosseinzadeh, Ahmad (Youhana) Sarparast, Ayoub (Farzin) Pour-Rezazadeh, and Morteza Mashhoodkari were detained after concurrent raids by security agents. Christian material and communication were also confiscated. The first two, Behnam and Babak, were released the following afternoon but were told they would likely be summoned again. The two severed two years in prison before being acquitted of “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionist Christianity” in November 2021. The latter three, Ahmad, Ayoub, and Morteza, were arrested in September 2021 and sentenced to five years in prison. 

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