Christian Naser Navard Gol-Tapeh was arrested on 24 June 2016 when 30 intelligence police agents raided an engagement party at a house in the Andisheh township of Karaj, near Tehran. Everyone present was detained, including three visiting Azeri Christians from Baku, Azerbaijan. Most of the Christians were released after questioning and collection of their personal information, but Naser and the Azeris were transferred to Evin prison – some sources suggested that Naser was not released as he was older than the other Christians in the group and was perceived as the leader.
The four Christians were held in solitary confinement for two months and subjected to intense interrogation. During this time, they were denied consular assistance and legal counsel. They were all charged with ‘illegal gathering, collusion and evangelism’. In September 2016, they were transferred to shared cells in Evin’s Ward 350, and they were temporarily released the following month on bail equivalent to approximately £25,500 each. The three Azeris – Bahram Nasibov, Yusif Farhadov and Eldar Gurbanov – were allowed to leave Iran in November 2016, forfeiting their bail.
At Naser’s trial in May 2017, Judge Mashallah Ahmadzadeh, head of the 26th branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Court in Tehran, charged him with ‘acting against national security through the formation and establishment of an illegal church organisation in his home’.