Middle East and North Africa

Family raises concerns over deteriorating health of Iranian Christian prisoner

The family of 46-year-old Naser Navard Goltapeh, a Christian convert imprisoned in Iran, fear that a severe gum infection will cause him further health problems. A family member told local sources, “if he does not receive immediate medical attention we are afraid he might lose all of his teeth.”

Naser was kept in solitary confinement for two months, while undergoing a gruelling interrogation. After sentencing, he was sent to the notorious Evin prison to serve a 10-year sentence on January 20 2018.

In July 2017, Naser was arrested with three Azerbaijani Christians during a secret police raid on a church meeting. He was convicted of assembling in an “illegal gathering” that “threatens the security of Iran”. The others were also convicted then released and sentenced in absentia, after returning to their country.

Similar accusations are often made against Christians active in ministry in Iran, an Islamic Republic, especially in churches composed of converts. The Iranian Ministry of Intelligence particularly targets converts, who are considered apostates under sharia law.

An appeals court upheld Naser’s ten-year term on 12 November 2017, making the sentence final.

Photo credit: Evin prison, sabzphoto via Flickr, cc-by-sa-2.0