TEHRAN, Iran – Three Iranian pastors who were sentenced to six years in prison for committing “action against national security” and “creating a network to overthrow the system”—charges believed to be used as a catchall against anyone deemed a threat to the government —have now been acquitted of their crimes.
As previously reported, Behnam Irani, who leads the 300-member Church of Iran in Karaj, was initially detained in 2006 while holding a Bible study and sentenced to prison five years later for “action against the state.”
In June, he was interrogated on five occasions for four hours each. Authorities then added 18 new charges against the 41-year-old pastor, including Mofsed fel-Arz or “spreading corruption on Earth,” which carries the death penalty. Another translation of the charge is “enemies of God on Earth.”
However, in October, the charges were reduced and Irani instead faced accusations of “action against national security” and “creating a network to overthrow the system.” Two other leaders with the Church of Iran, Abdolreza Ali-Haghnejad and Reza Rabbani, were charged as well. All three were declared guilty by Judge Asel Al-Hosseyn, and were sentenced to six years behind bars.
Written by Heather Clark
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