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Iran: Pastor imprisoned for ‘propagating Christianity’ transferred to prison 1,000 miles from home and family

There are roughly 300,000 Christians in Iran. Most of them are members of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Other Christians in Iran are members of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Chaldean Catholic Church, and the Roman Catholic Church; there is also a growing number of Pentecostals, Evangelicals, and other Protestants. 

For previous coverage of Iran, see here.

“Pastor transferred to prison 1,000 miles from home and family,” Article 18, July 10, 2023:

An Iranian pastor who has spent most of the past four years behind bars has now been transferred to another prison on the other side of the country, 1,000 miles from his home and family.

Abdolreza Ali-Haghnejad, who is known as Matthias, was flown yesterday morning from Rasht, northern Iran, to the remote southern city of Minab, where he has been told he must serve the remainder of his six-year prison sentence for “propagating Christianity”.

Matthias had been serving this particular sentence in his home city of Anzali, near Rasht, since January 2022, when he was detained just two weeks after being released following his acquittal from a separate five-year sentence for “promoting Zionist Christianity”.

The sentence Matthias is now serving – of which he was also once acquitted, before this was later overturned – dates back to 2012, and stipulated that he was to be imprisoned in Minab. However, until now, this aspect of the sentence had not been enforced.

But yesterday morning, Matthias was suddenly taken to the airport in Rasht and flown to the other side of the country, without a chance to say goodbye to his wife, Anahita, or their daughter, Hannah.

It is not uncommon for the Iranian authorities to order that detainees are imprisoned or exiled in remote places, as an additional means of punishment, and especially in cases involving prisoners of conscience.

Matthias, who is part of the “Church of Iran” denomination, has a long history of arrest dating back to 2006.

He was arrested most recently, alongside Anahita, at Christmas, when Matthias was on leave from prison….

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