Iranian Christian activist sentenced to 10 years in prison
Branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran has sentenced Mohammad-Hadi (Mostafa) Bordbar, an Iranian Christian convert, to ten years in prison.
According to a story by Mohabat News (based upon documents the news service said it possesses), Bordbar, a resident of Rasht, was tried by Judge Pir-Abbasi on June 9 2013 in branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.
Bordbar had been arrested on Dec. 27 2012.
According to Mohabat News, Bordbar was sentenced to five years in prison for membership in a so-called "anti-security organization," and an additional five years for gathering with intent to commit crimes against Iranian national security.
The ruling was issued in branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran by Pir-Abbasi, and delivered to Bordbar's lawyer, Shima Ghousheh, on July 31 2013.
Mohabat News said Bordbar and about 50 other Farsi-speaking Christian converts were in northern Tehran having a Christmas worship service, when 15 plain-clothes security officers raided the house.
Everyone was detained for hours. After interrogation, most of them were released. The incident also led to the arrest of Iranian-Armenian pastor, Vruir Avanes sian.
Bordbar had also been arrested in 2009 in Rasht for converting to Christianity and attending a house church.
In addition, Mohabat News said, branch 1 of the Rasht court found him guilty of "apostasy." He was released after posting bail of 200 million Rials. However, the apostasy conviction remained on his criminal record.
Mohabat News said when Bordbar later attempted to start a "technical company," he was denied the official permission to do so. The document given to him by police said Bordbar "is found guilty of apostasy and this is kept in his criminal record." (Supporting document in the possession of Mohabat News).
Mohabat News said according to a source close to Bordbar, his lawyer, a member of the Iranian Human Rights Commission, said she is working on an appeal.
Expressing her opposition to the ruling, Ghousheh said the two convictions (that resulted in a 10 year prison term) are actually the same, and that her client is b eing convicted twice for one charge. At the same time she was hopeful that the appeals court will overturn the guilty verdict.
After issuing the ruling, the Revolutionary Court announced that appeals to the decision may be submitted within 20 days of its issue.
The Iranian Constitution recognizes the rights of religious minorities, including Christians. However, Mohabat News said, the Iranian regime prosecutes those who convert to Christianity from Islam.
Persecution of Iranian Christian converts has been considerably on the rise since 2012. According to Mohabat News, many pastors and Christian activists have been arrested in recent years and given lengthy prison sentences. That occurs as the number of Christian converts is increasing, and the network of underground house churches is spreading fast.