Abdolreza (Matthias) Haghnejad | Iran
On July 24, at a preliminary hearing, Pastor Matthias and the eight others were accused of “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionism.”
Judge Mohammed Moghiseh, who earned the nickname the “judge of death”, rejected the lawyer representing five of the defendants, and they, in turn, rejected an alternate appointed by the court. Angered, the judge transferred the pastor, Shahrooz Eslamdous, Babak Hosseinzadeh, Mehdi Khatibi and Behnam Akhlaghi straight to Evin Prison, where they remain in Ward 4.
The converts lost their appeal against the five-year prison sentences, though neither they nor their lawyers were allowed to attend the Feb. 25, 2020 hearing.
All nine men are from the northern city of Rasht and are members of the Church of Iran. The church’s pastor, Yousef
Islamic Republic of Iran