Three Iranian Christians Lose Appeal Against Prison Sentence for “Propaganda Against State”
Sam Khosravi, an Iranian Christian who with his wife, Maryam, is currently contesting the authorities for custody of their adopted daughter, was one of three Christians who lost their appeal against a one-year prison sentence on January 27.
Judge Hedayat Rahavi ruled, based on the evidence from the initial court hearing against Sam, his brother Sasan Khosravi and Habib Heydari, that “they are guilty of organization of house churches and promotion of Christianity, which are clear examples of propaganda against the state.”
Sam and Sasan, their wives Maryam and Marjan Falahi (who are sisters), Habib Heydari, and Pooriya Peyma and his wife Fatemeh Talebi were arrested at their homes in the south-west city of Bushehr, in July 2019, in a coordinated operation carried out by Ministry of Intelligence agents.
In June 2020, the women were fined and the men were given jail terms of one year for Habib, Sam and Sasan and 91 days for Pooriya. Only Habib, Sam and Sasan appealed their convictions.
The three Christians expect to be summoned to prison to begin serving their sentences soon. When they are released, Sam and Sasan will also face another two years of internal exile and a ban on working in their profession, the hospitality sector, while exiled.
In the meantime, Sam and Maryam are continuing their battle for custody of their daughter Lydia, adopted from an orphanage as a 3-month old baby in February 2019.
Lydia, who has chronic health problems, was returned to the orphanage after an appeal court upheld in September 2020 an earlier ruling that she be removed from their care because they are Christians. The judge introduced sharia (Islamic law) to rule that although Lydia’s parentage and therefore her parents’ religion is not known, she is considered a Muslim and should be cared for by Muslim parents.
The other Christians involved in the case also have young children. Sasan has a 4-year-old son and 5-month-old daughter, Pooriya has a 5-month-old son, and Habib’s wife is pregnant.