An Iranian pastor who was jailed after being convicted of “acting against national security” has found out that his case was unfairly meddled in by Iran’s Supreme Leader.
Matthias Haghnejad was arrested last February by members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard. Agents burst into Haghnejad’s church following a worship service, detaining him and eight of his flock.
The official presiding over Haghnejad’s case was Judge Mohammed Moghiseh, who is well-known for perpetrating miscarriages of justice, particularly against Christians. In a shocking move, the judge refused the pastor the opportunity to choose his own legal representation and transferred him to Evin Prison, Tehran, without delay.
Now, it has been revealed that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamanei, granted the judges reviewing Haghnejad’s case special permission to bypass court procedures and throw the men in jail with zero due process.
Speaking to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) about the case, a source close to the trial said that Judge Moghiseh was acting on his blatant anti-Christian bias.
“It seemed as if the judge had already made his decision and allowed this process as a formality before pronouncing a pre-determined sentence,” they noted.
Pastor Haghnejad will now spend the next five years behind bars for simply preaching the gospel.
In response to the ruling, CSW’s Public Affairs Team Leader Kiri Kankhwende said that the charges leveled against the men were “excessive, completely unfounded and constitute a criminalisation of a religion which the Iranian constitution purportedly recognises.”
Iran is listed as the ninth most dangerous place on earth in which to live as a Christian, with Open Doors USA categorizing the level of persecution as “extreme.” Under the country’s Islamic law, it is illegal to preach in Farsi and to proselytize those who are non-Christian.
“Believers from Muslim backgrounds usually keep their faith secret,” the charity explains on its factsheet. “Leaders of Christian convert groups have been arrested, prosecuted and have received long prison sentences for ‘crimes against the national security.'”
In addition, Open Doors notes that underground house churches are “monitored and frequently raided” with “dozens of Christians imprisoned in appalling conditions” as a result.
“Christians from Armenian and Assyrian churches are allowed to practice their faith openly, but they still face discrimination, and it is illegal for them to share the gospel with Muslims.”