All five were convicted of ‘forming and operating illegal organisations with the aim of disrupting the security of the country’.
According to Barnabas Fund, the term ‘illegal organisations’ refers to underground house churches attended by Muslim-background Christian converts, who worship in the national language, Farsi.
Pastor Shahbazian and four Christian converts from Islam took their case to the court of appeal in Tehran, but the court ruled the defence had failed to meet the necessary criteria for the appeals to be considered.
Pastor Shahabazian was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Converts Mina Khajavi and Malihe Nazari were ordered to serve six years.
The other two converts, Masoumeh Ghasemi and Somayeh (Sonya) Sadegh, were sentenced to jail, but permitted instead to pay fines of $1,100 to $1,751.
The 26th Revolutionary Court of Tehran also ruled that Pastor Shahbazian should face a two-year ban on travelling abroad and two years of internal exile when he is released.