Pastor Matthias Haghnejad: He was arrested on February 10 when Iran’s Revolutionary Guard raided his house church gathering in Rasht where he was ministering; Bibles and cell phones were confiscated.
The other eight were arrested between January 31 and February 23. The list below includes all Christians to pray for by name (including Pastor Matthias):
- Pastor Matthias Haghnejad
- Khalil Dehkanpour
- Hossein (Elisha) Kadivar’
- Kamal Naamanian
- Mohammed Vafada
- Shahrooz Eslamdous
- Babak Hosseinzadeh
- Mehdi Khatibi
- Behnam Akhlaghi,
In March, seven of the accused were released on bail of 150 million Toman ($12,500), but Matthias and Shahrooz remained detained. Four months later on July 24 at a preliminary hearing, Pastor Matthias and the eight others were accused of “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionism.” Judge Mohammed Moghiseh rejected the lawyer representing five of the defendants. They rejected an alternate appointed by the court. Angered, the judge transferred the five to Evin Prison.
Four days later on July 28, the remaining four, Mohammad, Kamal, Hossein (Elisha) and Khalil appeared in court to face the same charges. At a final hearing on September 23, the defendants’ lawyer was allowed to attend. The verdict, pronounced on October 13, saw each receive five years in prison for “acting against national security”—a charge the state often uses to prosecute Christians for their house church activities.
The sentences are being appealed.