An Iranian Christian who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his faith has reportedly been transferred to the infamous Evin prison in Tehran, known for its brutal treatment of Christians and attempts to get them to deconvert.
Naser Navard-Goltapeh's 10-year prison sentence was upheld in November 2017, after being accused by the government of attempting to establish an underground church, which is illegal in the Islamic republic, as reported by Mohabat News.
"The court based its decision to convict Naser Navard-Goltapeh on a report by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence, allegedly providing ample evidence that he attempted to undermine national security through establishing an 'illegal house church network.' However, when asked for the report to be presented to his attorney, the court refused," said Kiarash Alipour, a spokesman for the Article 18 organization, a Christian rights advocacy group.
The Christian man was arrested back in June 2016 along with three other Christians at Azerbaijan's "Word of Life" church in Baku.
Navard-Goltapeh's attorney, Hossein Ahmadi Niaz, had tried to claim that his client had attended worship meetings that were focused only on his faith and nothing else, but attempts to have the Ministry of Intelligence help in reducing his sentence were unsuccessful.
Navard-Goltapeh has now been sent to Evin prison, which is known as being one of the most brutal prisons not only in Iran, but in the world.
Persecution watchdog and human rights groups regularly report of large scale prison beatings and torture going on in its premises, including an incident in 2014 where a Christian pastor was among 30 prisoners badly beaten during a raid.
Evangelical church leader Farshid Fathi suffered a broken foot during the raid, while the other prisoners had fractured skulls and broken ribs and limbs.
A famous case that made national headlines in America concerned pastor Saeed Abedini, who says that he was tortured on a daily basis in Evin, with authorities attempting to get him to renounce Jesus Christ.
Abedini, who was released and returned back to America in 2016 after serving three and a half years in prison in Iran, said that he was held in prison sections so dangerous that even the guards did not wander in.
"There were 120 murderers there who killed someone in the prison after they had been arrested for killing someone before they came to prison. Guards would not dare come to that section," he recalled in an interview. "The first two nights that I was there, four people were killed in prison fights by swords and knives, right in front of my eyes."
"I was physically and emotionally abused during my time there," Abedini added.
"That was the way the Iranian hardliners wanted to show their anger to America and Christianity by torturing me day and night as a Christian American pastor and break me and make me kneel down and make me to deny my faith to Jesus Christ as My Lord and Savior who went on the Cross to pay the death punishment of my sins."
Mission groups, such as Elam Ministries, have said that despite the government's crackdown on believers, the Christian faith is steadily growing in Iran.
"Church leaders believe that millions can be added to the church in the next few years — such is the spiritual hunger that exists and the disillusionment with the Islamic regime," Mohabat News reported.
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