Name: Mohammad Reza Omidi
Country/Area of Origin: Islamic Republic of Iran
Background: Omidi is an Iranian Christian convert who, alongside three other Christian men, have been leading the “Church of Iran” since Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s most recent arrest in July 2017.
Reason for Arrest:
Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence arrested Omidi and three other church leaders from a home worship service at Yasser Mossayebzadeh’s home in May of 2016. He was initially released on a 29,000 euro bond alongside his peers who were also arrested.
In September of 2016, Omidi was sentenced to eighty lashes “for the consumption of alcohol (communion wine) at the time of the raid.” This sentence is in line with Islamic tradition, which forbids Muslims from consuming alcohol.
In June of 2017, Omidi and the three other men leading the service were all tried and convicted of “acting against national security,” “propagating house churches,” and “promoting Zionist Christianity” for which they each received a 10-year prison sentence.
Omidi, as well as the other three Christian leaders, all filed an appeal to their sentence, but all were rejected.
- In October 2020, it was reported that Omidi had finished his commuted two-year sentence in late September 2020 and was subsequently released, but he had to return to Rasht to receive 80 lashes for drinking communal wine.
- On June 22, 2020 it was announced by Middle East Concern that his 10-year sentence was reduced to two years.
- Omidi is currently serving his 10-year sentence at the notorious Evin Prison.
- As of May 2020, Mohammad Reza Omidi remains in prison despite the outbreak of COVID-19