An Iranian Christian convert serving a ten-year prison sentence has been denied his request for a retrial.
Naser Navard Goltapeh, 60 years old, has served more than four years of his sentence for “acting against national security with the intention to overthrow the regime”.
He is alleged to have connections to churches and Christian groups outside Iran and was charged with acting “against national security” by running a house church.
Since his prison term began in January 2018 Naser has made three applications for a retrial, all rejected, before the Supreme Court finally agreed to review his case in January 2022.
However, the court has now announced its ruling that Naser’s request does not satisfy the requirements of the law for grounds for retrial and has rejected the request. No further explanation for this decision was provided.
Although the judgment was dated 19 February, it was not communicated to Naser’s family until 1 March.
Naser’s lawyer, Iman Soleimani, commented, “Unfortunately, the branches of the Supreme Court issue verdicts in an arbitrary way, without considering the rights of the accused.” He added that the decision contravened Naser’s civil rights and Iranian law.
During his imprisonment Naser has written several open letters to challenge the charges laid against him.
In November 2019 he wrote, “I do not know by what logic or under which crime this heavy sentence has been imposed upon me. I hope that Christ’s love will spread through the voice of imprisoned Christians throughout the world.”
Evin Prison in Tehran, where Naser is held, is notorious for prolonged interrogations and abusive treatment of inmates.