Iranian pastor Behnam Irani has been accused of 18 new charges, after previously being arrested for “action against the state” and “action against the order” in 2006; the pastor was sentenced to six years in prison for his crimes in 2011.
After serving three years in prison, Irani has now been charged 18 new crimes including “Mofsed-e-filarz” which means “spreading corruption on Earth,” which is punishable by death.
Another Iranian pastor, Matthias Haghnejad was charged earlier this year with a similar offense referred to as “Moharabeh” or “warring against God.”
Irani is reportedly now being held in solitary confinement.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, “We are deeply concerned by the new charges against Pastor Irani, especially the charge of spreading corruption on Earth, which bears unsettling similarities to the one faced by Pastor Matthias. Such charges are tantamount to an indictment of Christianity itself and mark a renewed escalation in Iran's campaign against Persian Christians under the Rouhani presidency…We also call on the government to drop the unwarranted charges against Pastors Irani and Haghnejad, and to release them, along with the five Christians arrested this week and others who have been unjustly detained on account of their faith and in contravention of international covenants to which Iran is party, that guarantee freedom of religion or belief.”
Publication date: September 3, 2014