Babak Hosseinza-deh

Name: Babak Hosseinzadeh

Country/Area of Origin: Iran

Background: Hosseinzadeh is one of the group of nine Iranian Christian converts that were arrested throughout January and February 2019.

Reason for Arrest:

On 23 February 2019, Babak Hosseinzadeh was arrested at a house church. Six other Iranian Christian colleagues – Abdolreza Ali Haghnejad, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Khalil Dehghanpour, Hossein Kadivar, Kamal Naamanian, and Mohammed Vafadar – were arrested in the previous four weeks. Behnam Akhlaghi and Mehdi Khatibi were arrested on the same day as Hosseinzadeh.

In March 2019 Hosseinzadeh, along with six of the arrested men (excluding Shahrooz Eslamdoust and Abdolreza Haghnejad), was released on bail to wait for formal sentencing.

On their July 24th hearing, the nine men were charged with “acting against national security” and “promoting Zionism” and were each sentenced to five years imprisonment. Judge Mohammed Moghiseh disallowed the attorney who was representing five of the nine men; in response, the defendants rejected the court-appointed lawyer. Judge Moghiseh was very angered with the action and immediately transferred Akhlagi, Eslamdoust, Khatibi, and Hosseinzadeh to the notorious Evin Prison.

Latest Updates:

  • 9 May 2022: It was reported that Iranian authorities released Behnam Akhlaghi and Babak Hosseinzadeh shortly after their detention, however Ahmad Sarparast, Ayoob Poor-Rezazadeh, and Morteza Mashoodkari remain in police custody.
  • 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: Babak Hosseinzadeh, Behnam Akhlaghi, Ahmad Sarparast, Ayoob Poor-Rezazadeh, and Morteza Mashoodkari. 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.
  • 28 February 2022: Branch 34 of Tehran’s Appeal Court overturned the convictions of Babak Hosseinzadeh, Behnam Akhlagi, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Mehdi Khatibi, Khalil Dehghanpour, Hossein Kadivar, Kamal Naamanian, Mohammed Vafadar, and Abdolreza Haghnejad. The court decision stated that “a sentence of criminal conviction requires judicial certainty and conclusive evidence of guilt, and members of society cannot be convicted on the basis of speculation and sentenced to imprisonment”. Moreover, the judgement found that “the defendants, according to the teachings of Christianity, worshiped and praised in the house-church, and there was no positive evidence to validate the crime of acting against the security of the country in the case”.
  • 27 January 2022: Babak Hosseinzadeh, alongside Behnam Akhlagi, Shahrooz Eslamdoust, Mehdi Khatibi, Khalil Dehghanpour, Hossein Kadivar, Kamal Naamanian, and Mohammed Vafadar were informed via SMS that their appeal hearing will take place on 22 February at Tehran’s Branch 34 appeal court.
  • 1 January 2022: Babak Hosseinzadeh was released from Tehran’s Evin Prison alongside Eslamdoust, Akhlaghi, Khatibi, Dehghanpour, Kadivar, Naamanian, and Vafadar. Haghnejad was released from Anzali Prison the day prior.
  • 24 November 2021: the Iranian Supreme Court reviewed the sentences of Hosseinzadeh and his eight Christian colleagues arrested between January and February 2019. The Court found that participation in house churches did not constitute a “crime against national security” and ordered the release of all nine men. The general hope is that the Supreme Court’s review and decision will lead to an acquittal.
  • In April 2020, The Council of United Iranian Churches (Hamgaam) called on the Iranian government to release religious prisoners of conscience in the following public statement [translated from Persian]:
    • “The continuing outbreak of Corona in prisons and the lack of access to adequate health and medical facilities threaten the lives and health of many Iranian citizens, including Christian converts, and have left many families concerned.”
  • 17 March 2020: Hosseinzadeh was not included in the group of 85,000 prisoners that Iran temporarily released in efforts to reduce the threat of COVID-19 spreading in detention centers.
  • In March 2020, the nine men had lost their appeals against their five-year sentences; ironically, none of the men nor their lawyers were allowed to attend the hearing the month prior. According to one of the lawyers, they believe that Iran is trying to “expedite its judicial processes due to a backlog of cases related to recent protests and a general breakdown as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.”