Pastor Matthias Haghnejad was arrested in July when intelligence agents raided his home in Bandar-e-Anzali. The officers also arrested two other converts from Islam: Mohammad Roghangir and Suroush Saraie. The agents then confiscated Bibles, Christian literature and the pastor’s personal computer.
In August, Matthias was charged with “Moharebeh” or “waging war against God” after being interrogated for hours. Moharebeh is a capital offence that previously has only been prosecuted in cases of criminal activity, armed protests, oppositional political activism and separatism.
Suroush and Mohammad are charged with “actions against national security,” “evangelizing” and “disturbing public order”.
Although Iran is a signatory to the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it continually denies religious rights to some minorities. Iranian authorities systematically charge Christians — notably Protestants and converts from Islam — with religious crimes that are often presented as political or criminal in nature.
Convictions for converts are often a foregone conclusion and long prison sentences are not unusual.