Published on: 24 November 2017
Iranian Christian convert, Nasser Navard Goltapeh, lost his appeal and received a 10-year prison sentence in Iran’s Revolutionary Court in Tehran on Sunday, Nov. 21, despite defense documents and the serious doubts of the legality of his charges.
At the trial, Judge Hassan Babaei called on Goltapeh to obtain the “consent of the intelligence experts” for the imprisonment penalty. The Ministry of Information is a judicial authority, the plaintiff in Goltapeh’s case and his interrogators.
According to advocacy group Article 18 the interrogators of the Ministry of Intelligence have threatened and endeared their Christian leaders to “cooperate” against their punitive sanctions. But there is no clear explanation as to how this “cooperation” is.
Goltapeh’s lawyer, Hussein Ahmadi Nezam, confirmed that his client has not been convicted of any “criminal offense.”
Nasser Navard Goltapeh, age 46, was arrested on July 4, 2016, at a private engagement party, along with three other Christians from Baku, Azerbaijan, Yusif Farhadov Talt Oglu, aged 53, Bahram Nasibov Alkan Oglu, aged 38, and Eldar Gurbanov, age 49.
“I am saddened that Nasser Goltapeh lost his appeal and concerned that he received this harsh and unjust sentence,” said Paul Popov, president of Door of Hope International. “The tremendous growth of Christianity in Iran is the result of increased arrests of Christians and their leaders by the Iranian authorities in an effort to suppress this growth.”
“We praise God that He is moving in Iran!” said Popov “But we cry and pray for those who are imprisoned, taken from their wives, their children, their families because they love Jesus Christ.”
“We must continue to pray and advocate on behalf of those arrested,” said Paul Popov. During this Thanksgiving time, we must be thankful, not only for our “bounty,” but for the greatest gift He gave us – our freedom to worship Christ!”
The four Christians were arrested and held in Evin prison, interrogated for two months in solitary confinement and held for four months without legal representation. They were accused of violating the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the destruction of the government’s limitations on religious activities by promoting Christianity and association with a foreign organization, “Word of Life” church, and promoting Christianity. They were each sentenced to a maximum 10-year sentence.
All four Christians were released on October 29, 2016 on a temporary bail of $100 million (approx. $284,000 US). The three Christians from Azerbaijan, who were invited to Iran for the engagement party, were permitted to return to Azerbaijan on Nov. 7, 2016 after paying full bail. It is unlikely they will return to Iran where they will likely be arrested to serve their prison sentences.
Goltapeh, being and Iranian citizen, was not able to leave and escape his trial and sentencing.