Ahmad Sarparast

Name: Ahmad Sarparast

Country/Area of Origin: Rasht, Iran

Background: Ahmad Sarparast is an Iranian Christian convert and member of the non-Trinitarian Church of Iran

Reason for Arrest:

On 5 September 2021, Ahmad Sarparast was arrested alongside two other Christian convert men, Morteza Mashoodkari and Ayoob Poor-Rezazadeh, both of whom are members of the same church. Iranian authorities transferred the three men to an Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) detention center where they were kept in solitary confinement for 17 days. On 18 September, Sarparast and Mashoodkari were transferred to Lakan Prison, however, it remained unclear the conditions of Poor-Rezazadeh’s imprisonment; Poor-Rezazadeh was later released from Lakan Prison on bail on 3 October.

During interrogation, the three men were “treated very harshly” and investigators even forced them to listen to radio broadcasts of Quranic verses. In late January 2022, Rasht’s Civil and Revolutionary Court charged Sarparast, Mashoodkari, and Poor-Rezazadeh were charged with “engaging in propaganda and educational activities for deviant believes contrary to the holy Sharia”, with the coinciding court document characterizing the three as “Satan-worshippers who believe in the end of the world, the divisions between sects and races, the return of Jews to their promise land, and the superiority of this race [Jews] to others, which proves the claim that they are working for foreign elements”

During a second trial in mid-February 2022, the three men resorted to their final defense, stating that they were just a group of peaceful Christians who wanted to worship freely, and that they had no intention of engaging in spreading propaganda.

On 9 April 2022, Sarparast, Mashoodkari, and Poor-Rezazadeh were each convicted of propaganda and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and an 18 million tomans fine. Despite that the judge suggested that if the men serve their prison terms peacefully and quietly their sentences might be commuted, the defendants have expressed that they plan to appeal the sentences completely.

Mansour Borji, Advocacy Director of Article18, states the following regarding the case:

“The verdict in this case is typical of arbitrary sentences, stating only that the individuals were convicted because they had remained ‘persistent in their beliefs’. This is clearly a violation of the Iranian constitution, and contrary to the repeated claims of regime officials that ‘no-one is imprisoned because of their beliefs’. The conviction is also based only on the reports of interrogators – nothing more – and is therefore entirely devoid of any legal justification. The proceedings in this case also clearly debunk Iranian officials’ claims, repeated constantly to international media, that the judiciary is independent.”

Latest Updates:

  • 8 May 2022: Iranian authorities in Rasht conducted a series of raids on the homes of five Christian converts associated with the Church of Iran: Ahmad Sarparast, Ayoob Poor-Rezazadeh, Morteza Mashoodkari, Behnam Akhlaghi, and Babak Hosseinzadeh. All of the men were arrested and transferred to an undisclosed location with the exception of Mashoodkari who was not home but was later summoned and turned himself in. Akhlaghi and Hosseinzadeh were two of the group of nine Christian converts arrested in February 2019, whereas Sarparast, Poor-Rezazadeh, and Mashoodkari were arrested in September 2021 and soon released on bail.