Four Christians arrested in Iran

(Photo: Getty/iStock)

A Christian church leader and his wife are among four Christians arrested in Iran in the last few weeks.

Pastor Matthias Haghnejad, a leader in the Church of Iran denomination, was on furlough from prison when he was arrested and returned to prison on 26 December.

He was arrested while visiting the home of fellow Christian Amir Roshandal, who was also detained along with another believer, Massoud Veis-Kahni.

Pastor Haghnejad's wife, Anahita Khademi, was later arrested and is being held in Lakan prison in Rasht, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

Her husband was sentenced alongside eight others to a five-year prison sentence for "endangering state security" and "promoting Zionist Christianity" in 2019.

They were released in December 2021 and acquitted a few months later but Pastor Haghnejad was re-arrested in January 2022 on charges of "acting against the security of the country by forming a group and propagating Christianity outside the church and in the house church, and giving information to the enemies of Islam".

CSW's Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: 'Pastor Matthias Haghnejad's re-arrest on 26 December is the latest in a litany of injustices he has experienced, of which the renewal of spurious charges on which he was acquitted in 2014 is a particularly egregious example.

"This harassment is clearly due to his leadership role in a house church, and therefore contravenes the November 2021 Supreme Court ruling. We are particularly alarmed by recent reports of the arrest of the pastor's wife, and call for the couple's immediate and unconditional release, as well as that of the men detained alongside Pastor Haghnejad and all others currently imprisoned in relation to their religion or belief.

"We also call on Iran to ensure that all citizens are able to fully enjoy the right to freedom of religion or belief as articulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is a signatory, and urge the international community to follow these cases closely as the country remains high on its agenda due to the appalling violations committed against peaceful protesters."