Friends of Babak Hosseinzadeh and Behnam Akhlaghi request prayer after they were summoned by a prosecutor in Tehran to face charges of “propaganda against the state.”
Babak and Behnam were among nine Christian converts from Rasht arrested early in 2019 and charged with action against national security. They were each sentenced to five years in prison in July 2019. Five defendants including Babak and Behnam were refused bail and transferred to Evin Prison while an appeal was still pending. The appeal court upheld the sentences, but in a surprise development a review of the sentences was ordered by the Supreme Court and the defendants granted temporary release. The review by Branch 34 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran is scheduled for 22 February.
Babak and Behnam were summoned by the prosecutor last week in relation to calls they made in videos for a place to worship for Christian converts. There is no provision in Iran for Christian converts to worship together freely as stipulated under international law. In highlighting this discrepancy, Babak and Behnam are being accused of anti-state propaganda.
Babak and Behnam were allowed conditional release after submitting pay slips as bail.
Iranian Christians request prayer that:
- The new charges against Babak and Behnam will be dropped
- The court review on 22 February will result in all nine Christian converts being acquitted of their supposed crimes against national security
- The right of Iranian citizens, whether Christian converts or of other religious affiliation, to enjoy freedom of belief and worship collectively will be recognised and upheld