By Dan Wooding, Founder of ASSIST News Service
IRAN (ANS – November 24, 2017) — An Iranian convert to Christianity has had his 10-year prison sentence upheld after losing his appeal.
According to World Watch Monitor (https://www.worldwatchmonitor.org/), Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh was sentenced in May alongside three Azerbaijanis. All four men were given 10-year sentences for “missionary activities” and “actions against national security” in Iran.
However, the three Azerbaijanis — Eldar Gurbanov, Yusif Farhadov and Bahram Nasibov — were allowed to leave Iran in November 2016, and are unlikely to be forced to return, despite their representatives also failing to overturn their verdicts during the November 12th hearing, World Watch Monitor understands.
The four men were arrested in June 2016 after security agents raided a wedding party in Tehran. They spent four months in prison, but were then released on bail, after which the Azerbaijanis travelled home.
News of their sentencing came during the same week that four other Iranian Christians received lengthy jail terms for offences relating to evangelism and acting “against national security”. Since May, 21 Christians have been sentenced to long prison terms in Iran, according to advocacy group, Article 18.
“Iran continues to violate international law on freedom of religion or belief,” according to Article 18, which noted that Iran is ranked 8th on the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian.
“The growing community of Christian converts are not permitted to attend recognized churches and have to gather for worship in secret ‘house churches’ and risk arrest and imprisonment. In 2016 over 193 Christian were arrested for attending these prayer meetings and Bible studies in ‘house churches.’
“In recent months, a number of Christians were handed down sentences of between 10 and 15 years, charged with offences such as ‘acting against national security’. These political charges may help avoid international outcry at religiously motivated charges.”
Photo captions: 1) Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh (Article 18). 2) Left to right: Bahram Nasibov, Yusif Farhadov and Eldar Gurbanov (Middle East Concern). 3) Dan Wooding recording his “Front Page Radio” show at KWAVE in Santa Ana, California.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 76, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist, who was born in Nigeria, West Africa, of British missionary parents, Alfred and Anne Wooding, who then worked with the Sudan Interior Mission, now known as SIM. Dan now lives in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for some 54 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder/president of the ASSIST News Service (ANS), and is also the author of numerous books. He has a radio show and two television programs, all based in Southern California. Dan has received numerous awards for his journalistic work on behalf of Persecuted Christians, the most recent was in Beverly Hills, California, where at an international film festival, he was presented with a top humanitarian award by his son, Peter Wooding, before some 500 Hollywood luminaries. His last overseas assignment for ANS was to war-torn Kurdistan in Northern Iraq.
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