Behnam Irani, a 41-year-old pastor from Karaj, Iran, was convicted of crimes against national security in January 2011 and sentenced to one year in prison. After voluntarily surrendering to authorities on May 31 to begin his sentence, he learned that he would be forced to serve five years in connection with a previous conviction.
Officers from the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security (MOIS) raided Irani’s house church on April 14, 2010, and assaulted him before taking him into custody. Although he was released on bail two months after his arrest, he later received the one-year prison sentence.
When Irani voluntarily began serving his sentence in May 2011, he was prepared to spend one year in prison. But he received a letter in October stating that he must now serve five years from his previous sentence.
Irani was first arrested in December 2006 and tried for crimes against national security. He was released in January 2007 but was soon re-arrested, tried and sentenced to five years in prison. Irani was never called to serve the sentence that is now being held against him.
Irani became a pastor in 2002, 10 years after becoming a Christian. Please pray for his wife and two children as they wait for him to return home.
Pastor Wins Appeal - December 2014
Following a Dec. 9 appeal, Pastor Behnam Irani was informed that he will not have to serve an additional six-year prison term. The pastor had been sentenced to six years on charges of “action against national security” and “creating a network to overthrow the system.” These charges were revoked, but the pastor will continue to serve a one-year term for action against the state and a five-year prison sentence for “action against national security” in Karaj. Both charges are euphemisms for his work as a pastor.
Six Years Added - October 2014
Officials added six years to Pastor Behnam Irani’s prison sentence, and he no longer faces the death penalty. The charge of “spreading corruption on earth” was dropped in exchange for new charges that add six years to his current five-year sentence. Pastor Irani is expected to be transferred to the city of Zabol, near the border of Afghanistan, where he will not be due for release until 2023. The prison is located over 900 miles away from Karaj and it will difficult for his family to visit.
Family Concerned from No Contact - Sept. 2014
Behnam Irani's family has not heard from him since Aug. 25, and they are very concerned. During this time, VOM partners heard there was a riot at the prison where Behnam is held. Please pray that Behnam's family soon receives word from him.
Behnam Irani Held in Solitary - July 2014
Pastor Behnam Irani has returned to prison after being beaten on June 7 and held in solitary confinement for weeks. The pastor was held in an undisclosed location by religious police, who threatened him with further prison time after a judge charged the pastor with communicating with media. Behnam Irani taken to a detention center and held in solitary confinement. Officers interrogated the pastor four hours at a time on five separate occasions while he was there.
Pastor Behnam Underwent Surgery
Pastor Behnam Irani underwent surgery on Feb. 22 at the Shahid Madani Hospital in Karaj, Iran, because of severe bleeding as a result of stomach ulcers and colon complications. According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), the surgery was successful. He was expected to be returned to the prison as of Feb. 26 to continue serving his six-year prison term. Please continue to pray for Pastor Behnam Irani and his family.
Still Ill, But Full of Faith - September 2013
Pastor Behnam Irani remains in poor health. He has served a little over two years of his six-year sentence. VOM partners report that his faith remains strong and his attitude is positive. His family misses him a great deal. He has a 12-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son. Pray for healing for Pastor Behnam and for protection for him while he’s in prison. Pray especially that God would strengthen and encourage his faith during this season.
Behnam Remains in Prison - August 2013
VOM contacts sent this update recently: Pastor Irani is still in prison and is still sick. His wife is mostly doing well, but she gets quite lonely. Their young son forgets he has a daddy sometimes. Their daughter is still shaken by what happened; she saw her father getting beaten by the police during the service.
Behnam Transferred to Prison Hospital - July 2012
Within the last week, Behnam Irani became so sick that he lost consciousness. As a result, he was finally allowed to be transferred to to prison hospital. His family had been worried for weeks that he appeared to be suffering from an intestinal issue. Instead, it appears that Behnam suffers from a bleeding ulcer. We are thankful Behnam is being treated by a doctor, but we encourage you to continue to pray for him since the situation is so serious.
Irani is Ill - February 2012
The family of Behnam Irani are very concerned over reports of his ill health. He is experiencing some sort of intestinal disorder. His family is very concerned because his brother died from intestinal cancer. Please pray for his health, as well as for his family.
Pastor Irani Being Mistreated and in Poor Health
For the first few months of his sentence, Behnam Irani was held in solitary confinement in a very small cell. Afterward, he was moved to another small cell with other prisoners. The room was so full, the prisoners were not able to lie down to sleep, so they had to sit all day and night. The room also got very hot.
Pastor Behnam is now in a normal cell, but authorities have asked for him to be beaten regularly. All his hair has turned white, and his friends fear he may lose the use of his foot, due to a severe foot injury.
Please keep Behnam and his family in your prayers.
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