Security forces in Iran have detained four Christian converts from Islam following a raid on a “house church” meeting on Sunday 26 June.
The four were among those attending a church service in Neyshabur, north-eastern Iran.
They have each been charged with “acting against national security through propaganda against the regime” and “insulting the sacred” (blasphemy).
Three of the converts are being held in Neyshabur Prison. The fourth, Gholamreza Keyvanmanesh, has been transferred to Vakilabad Prison in Mashhad, 45 miles away.
Gholamreza, 65, who was born in Tehran but lives in Neyshabur, suffers from cancer. His lack of access to medication and exposure to prison conditions are serious concerns.
At least eight other Christians questioned following the meeting have been informed by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to expect a summons for further interrogation. They were required to sign commitments to refrain from meeting other Christians. Bibles and mobile phones were confiscated and returned after two weeks.
Family members of the four Christians imprisoned who have contacted the IRGC for updates on the cases have also been threatened with detention.
Farsi (Persian)-speaking Christians are converts from Islam and therefore punishable as apostates according to Islamic law. Unlike the historic Armenian- and Assyrian-speaking Christian communities they are not permitted to hold church services or worship freely.
Farsi-speaking congregations are regularly raided and members charged with belonging to “illegal groups”.