Christians are urging people to pray for a pastor and his wife arrested while celebrating Christmas at home.
Religious freedom group Middle East Concern (MEC) has raised concerns over Iranian Pastor Abdolreza (Matthias) Haghnejad who was arrested on 26th December when intelligence agents raided a house church.
On 26th December, intelligence agents raided a house church, while a Christmas celebration was underway. Matthias and two other converts were arrested and transferred to Lakan Prison in Rasht.
On 3rd January, his wife Anna was summoned to intelligence offices in Bandar Anzali, arrested and also transferred to Rasht.
Matthias has been ostensibly detained in Anzali Prison since his arrest in January 2022 to serve a six-year sentence handed down in 2014 on national security charges. That sentence was successfully appealed in 2014 but last year the judicial head of the court in Karaj overruled the appeal sentence and upheld the 2014 sentence, saying that Matthias is an enemy of the state and that the sentence given at that time is still in force.
Although detained in prison, Matthias was allowed regular leave and continued to minister in the local house church.
In a separate court case Matthias was one of nine converts released from prison in December 2021 after a review of their five-year prison sentences on charges of “endangering state security and promoting Zionism”. They were acquitted by the 34th branch of the Appeal Court in Tehran in February 2022.
(Middle East Concern; Picture Courtesy: Internationale Gesellschaft