Iranian Christians request prayer for pastor Abdolreza (Matthias) Haghnejad and his wife Anahita (Anna) Khademi after their recent arrest in Bandar Anzali, north Iran.
On 26 December intelligence agents raided a house church while a Christmas celebration was underway. Matthias and two other converts were arrested and transferred to Lakan Prison in Rasht. On 3 January Anna was summoned to intelligence offices in Bandar Anzali, arrested, and also transferred to Rasht.
Matthias has been ostensibly detained in Anzali Prison since his arrest in January 2022 to serve a six-year sentence handed down in 2014 on national security charges. That sentence was successfully appealed in 2014 but last year the judicial head of the court in Karaj overruled the appeal sentence and upheld the 2014 sentence, saying that Matthias is an enemy of the state and that the sentence given at that time is still in force. Although detained in prison, Matthias was allowed regular leave, and continued to minister in the local house church.
In a separate court case Matthias was one of nine converts released from prison in December 2021 after a review of their five-year prison sentences on charges of “endangering state security and promoting Zionism”. They were acquitted by the 34th branch of the Appeal Court in Tehran in February 2022.
Friends of Matthias and Anna are concerned about Anna’s health in detention as she has back problems and request prayer that:
- God will strengthen and encourage them and that their teenage daughter will be adequately cared for while her parents are in prison
- Criminal charges will not be brought against Matthias and Anna and the two other converts arrested at the Christmas gathering
- The authorities in Iran will cease to criminalise the peaceful activities of the different religious communities