On Tuesday, May 10, 2022, Christian convert Morteza Hajeb Mashhoud-Kari was arrested after an appearance at the Courthouse of Rasht City and transferred to Lakan Prison.
According to HRANA, the news agency of Human Rights Activists, following a failed attempt to arrest Morteza Hajeb Mashhoud-Kari last Sunday, the security forces summoned him to appear at the Courthouse of Rasht City. Subsequently, Morteza Hajeb Mashhoud-Kari was arrested and transferred to Lakan Prison.
Attorney Iman Soleimani told HRANA, “the authorities informed Mr. Mashhoud-Kari that he would be arrested if he failed to come to the IRGC Intelligence Office. When he appeared there, he found out that a new legal case had been opened against him and several other Christian converts.”
Last Sunday, the security forces arrested four other Christian converts, Behnam Akhlaghi, Babak Hossein-Zadeh, Ayoub Pourreza-Zadeh, and Ahmad Sarparast in Rasht City.
Earlier, in April of 2022, the Revolutionary Court of Rasht sentenced Mashhoud-Kari to five years imprisonment and 180 million tomans fine on the charges of “forming church home, propaganda against the regime and association with Zionism and Branhamist sect.” On May 23 of this year, Branch 18 of the Court of Appeal of Gilan Province will hold the first session to re-examine his case.
Despite the fact that Christians are recognized as a religious minority under Iranian law, security forces harass and prosecute Muslims who convert to Christianity.
The prosecution of Christian converts stands in blatant violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which state that every individual has the right to freedom of religion and belief and freedom to express it openly or secretly.