The following report is based on documents provided to Mohabat News.
According to Mohabat News, Mohammad-Hadi (Mostafa) Bordbar, a Christian convert resident of Rasht, was tried by Judge Pir-Abbasi on the morning of June 9, 2013 in branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Mr. Bordbar had been arrested during Christmas holidays on December 27, 2012.
According to the documentation and reports received by Mohabat News from the court's ruling, Mostafa Bordbar was sentenced to 5 years in prison for membership in a so-called "anti-security organization" and an additional 5 years for gathering with intent to commit crimes against Iranian national security.
The ruling was issued in branch 26 of the Revolutionary Court of Tehran by Judge Pir-Abbasi and was delivered to Mr. Bordbar's lawyer, Shima Ghousheh, on July 31, 2013.
An eight pages report is available from the court session regarding the verdict. However, to be concise a short summery of it is provided below, including the charges levied against him.
It should be mentioned that there are names of Christian individuals, activists and ministries which cannot be shared here for the sake of confidentiality (the documents are kept by Mohabat News).
- A Summary of Charges:
It is worthy to note that Mr. Bordbar and about 50 other Farsi-speaking Christian converts had gathered in a house in northern Tehran to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and worship, when 15 plain-clothes security officers raided the house. Everyone in attendance was kept there for hours. After interrogating them at the place, most of them were released. The incident also led to the arrest of the Iranian-Armenian pastor, Vruir Avanessian.
Mr. Bordbar had also been arrested in 2009 in Rasht for converting to Christianity and attending a house church. Also, branch 1 of the Rasht court found him guilty of "apostasy". He was then released after posting bail of 200 million Rials. However, the apostasy conviction remained in his criminal record. Later when he attempted to register a technical company to provide a living, he was not given a criminal clearance paper and so was not permitted to register his company. The paper given to him by the police stated that he "is found guilty of apostasy and this is kept in his criminal record" (supporting document is held confidential by Mohabat News).
- Appeals Court
According to a source close to Mr. Bordbar, his lawyer, Shima Ghousheh, a member of the Iranian Human Rights Commission, stated that she is working on an appeal to submit to the court.
Expressing her protest to the ruling, she said that both convictions resulting in a total sentence of 10 years in prison are actually the same and that her client is being convicted twice for one charge. At the same time she expressed hope that the appeals court will overturn the guilty verdict.
After issuing the ruling, the Revolutionary Court announced that appeals to the decision may be submitted within 20 days of its issue.
The Iranian Constitution recognizes the rights of religious minorities, including Christians. However, the Islamic regime of Iran prosecutes those who convert to Christianity from Islam.
Persecution of Iranian Christian converts has been considerably on the rise since 2012. Many pastors and Christian activists have been arrested in recent years and given lengthy prison sentences as the number of Christian converts is increasing and the network of underground house churches is spreading at a faster rate.