Iranian pastor Anooshavan Avedian, 60, has lost his appeal against a ten-year jail term for running a “house church” at his home in the capital city, Tehran.
Anooshavan, an Iranian-Armenian, was convicted on 11 April of “propaganda contrary to and disturbing to the holy religion of Islam”.
The appeal decision was announced on Sunday 29 May. The hearing had taken place in Anooshavan’s absence, despite repeated calls by his lawyer, Iman Soleimani, for him to be present.
Soleimani argued that judges needed to study at least seven folders, each with about 600 pages of documents, and details of numerous legal challenges before the appeal could be determined.
He said the speed in which the verdict was delivered “demonstrates insufficient study of the case by the appeal judges, dismissal of the defence, and unjust process”.
In addition to the ten-year jail term imposed by the 26th Branch of the Revolutionary Court of Iran, Anooshavan was also sentenced to ten years of “deprivation of social rights” after his release, meaning that the employment he will be able to have upon his release will be restricted.
Meanwhile, two members of Anooshavan’s house church, Abbas Soori and Maryam Mohammadi, convicted by the same court of being members of an “illegal group”, have won appeals against their sentence.
Their ten-year deprivation of rights was removed and their individual fines of 50 million tomans (approximately £1,600; $2,000; €1,900) were reduced to 6 million tomans each.
Lift up Anooshavan Avedian and ask that the joy of the Lord will be his strength in these days of trial (Nehemiah 8:10). Give thanks for the reduction in sentence of Abbas Soori and Maryam Mohammadi. Pray for all Christians imprisoned in Iran because of their faith and ask that they hold fast to the Lord, who will never leave or forsake them.