Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service
IRAN (ANS) -- Maryam Naghash-Zargaran (also known as Nasim), is an Iranian Christian convert currently serving her four year prison sentence in the women's ward of Iran's notorious Evin Prison.
Nasim was first arrested in the winter of 2013 for "acting against national security." The day she was arrested she received a phone call from the intelligence police in Tehran.
She was told to report to them, where she was immediately arrested and kept for three days. Then Nasim was transferred to Evin Prison where she was incarcerated for 19 days. She was subsequently released on bail.
During that time, security authorities searched her house several times, confiscating her personal belongings as well as Christian related material.
Mohabat News said Nasim's trial was at branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. Judge Mohammad Moghiseh sentenced her to four years in prison for "propagating against the Islamic regime and colluding to undermine national security."
Her appeal was denied, and Nasim began serving her sentence on July 15 2013.
Mohabat News said the fact of Nasim's name not being published before as being a Christian prisoner in Evin raises speculation that there may be more unknown Christian prisoners in Iranian prisons.
For security reasons, some of the names of places and individuals mentioned in the verdict have been omitted.
The court verdict for Nasim, a copy of which was provided to Mohabat News, states that "She converted from Islam to Protestant Christianity through her sister who lives abroad. She is an active member of the Central Assemblies of God Church as well ... She started a house church to proselytize Muslim youth. She is an evangelist herself and is in contact with ... ministries."
Another part of the verdict reads, "She has traveled to Turkey several times with Christian related intentions and stayed at ... a hotel where Christians often assemble for evangelical purposes. In July, she took 20 women with her on a trip to Ramsar and held classes for them to attract them to Christianity."
It continues, "Additionally, although (Nasim) had signed a disclaimer not to collaborate with the Assemblies of God Church, she went to the church on Sundays and Tuesdays and is still in contact with pastor ... The court considers her actions as supporting the anti security intentions of England and Israel to spread house churches in Iran, and to divert the Islamic society from the way of truth. Based on these allegations, and according to articles 46 and 610 of the Islamic Penal Code, she will be sentenced to four years in prison which includes the time she has been under detention."
Mohabat News said Iranian judicial and security authorities have repeatedly tried to make up false allegations against Christian converts to pressure them and distort public opinion. Most of these false allegations are political (the religious aspect is downplayed to avoid international pressure), and argue that house churches are really political groups working as spies for countries such as England and Israel.
Mohabat News said just before President Hassan Rouhani's recent trip to New York to attend the UN General Assembly, two Christian woman prisoners, Maryam Jalili and Mitra Rahmati, were released together with a number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. They had been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. However, when they were freed, only one month remained on their prison term.
For more information about Mohabat News visit www.mohabatnews.com