By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)– A major evangelical house church movement in Iran urged the international community Sunday, May 20, to help free its songwriter and devoted Christian Alireza Seyyedian who was sentenced to six years imprisonment for “threatening national security” and “propaganda”.
In a mobile phone message obtained by BosNewsLife he said: “I was arrested on the [Iranian]-Turkish border. They are transferring me to Tehran. Good Bye and I need your prayers.”
Seyyedian, 36, was captured by border guards while trying to flee to neighboring, confirmed Firouz Khandjani, a council member of the evangelist’s Church of Iran.
“He was detained March 14 while trying to flee to Turkey,” Khandjani told BosNewsLife in an interview, adding that he is held in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison. “His verdict of six years imprisonment was upheld.”
Khandjani and other Christians have linked the sentencing to his involvement in Christian activities.”He was sharing the Gospel but unfortunately [for him] he worked quite openly,” said Khandjani, who knows him personally.
Iranian authorities said he had been holding church meetings, distributing Bibles among the youth, writing and sharing Christian songs and had contacts with international broadcasters.
Seyyedian’s attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, reportedly said authorities also objected to his baptism. “The judge said that by having his baptism performed in Turkey, he propagated against the regime. According to the judge, we have enough priests in Iran to baptize him.”
Khanjani expressed concerns about the Christian’s prison treatment. “Six years imprisonment is too much. I also know he was tortured in the past, though that is apparently not the case now.”
Seyyedian, a former Muslim who turned to Christianity, is among several other prominent Christians known to be targeted by authorities.
On Sunday, May 20, Christian leaders and activists were gathering in front of the Iranian Interest Section in Washington to also demand the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani who has been sentenced to death for his refusal to renounce his Christian faith and embrace Islam.
Christians have linked the reported crackdown to concerns within the government of strictly Islamic Iran about the spread of Christianity.
Iran has denied wrongdoing saying it upholds Islamic values.