Christian Convert Repeatedly Imprisoned for his Faith Denied Timely Adjudication
A Christian convert’s appeal against his five-year prison sentence has not been adjudicated more than a year after his third conviction on repeated charges related to his new faith, a source knowledgeable about the case told the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
Ebrahim Firoozi, a 31-year-old welder from the city of Robat Karim (16 miles southwest of Tehran), is being held in Rajaee Shahr Prison in Karaj (12 miles west of Tehran). He was initially arrested in January 2010 for converting from Islam to Christianity and allegedly organizing Christian religious meetings.
During his first arrest he was told he would be freed if he declared himself a Muslim, a source told the Campaign. After Firoozi refused, the Revolutionary Court in Karaj convicted him of “propaganda against the state” for his religious conversion and alleged missionary activities and sentenced him to five months in prison with an additional five-month suspended prison sentence. He was freed on June 8, 2011.
Firoozi was arrested a second time on March 8, 2012 for allegedly “attempting to create a website teaching about Christianity” (in order to convert people) and again charged with “propaganda against the state” for which he was sentenced to one year in prison and two years in exile by Judge Hassan Babaee of the Revolutionary Court in Robat Karim. The Appeals Court upheld the decision.
The Christian convert was arrested a third time on September 16, 2013 and held in Ward 240, which is under the control of the Intelligence Ministry, in Evin Prison in Tehran where he was “insulted for his beliefs” and pressured to give false confessions, the source told the Campaign.
In April 2015 Judge Mohammad Moghisseh of Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Firoozi to five years in prison for allegedly “creating a group with the intention of disturbing national security.”
“Ebrahim objected to and appealed the sentence a year ago, but the final verdict has still not been decided,” said the source.
The source added that the repeated prosecution of Firoozi for charges he has already been convicted of violates Article 7 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by Iran in 1975, which states: “No one shall be liable to be tried or punished again for an offence for which he has already been finally convicted or acquitted in accordance with the law and penal procedure of each country.”
Meanwhile Firoozi is being denied access to state-sanctioned religious books that he had ordered from outside the prison.
“For more than a year the [Rajaee Shahr] prison’s authorities have refused to deliver the books Ebrahim had personally purchased, even though they have all been published with the permission of the Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry,” the source told the Campaign.
Article 148 of Iran’s Prison Regulations Code allows prisoners to maintain access to items associated with their faith.
Despite President Hassan Rouhani’s pledges during his election campaign in 2013 that “All ethnicities, all religions, even religious minorities, must feel justice,” the targeting of Christian converts has continued unabated under his administration.