Christian prisoner of conscience Nasser Navard Gol-Tapeh has been told his request for conditional release has been rejected.
The news comes as a bitter blow to the Christian convert, who turns 60 in August, having been regularly assured by prison authorities in recent months that his request would be accepted. Nasser is eligible for parole, having served over one third of his 10-years sentence.
Since beginning his sentence in Evin Prison in January 2018, Nassar has had three requests for a retrial rejected and has written several open letters querying why his membership of a house church was deemed an “action against national security”.
“Is the fellowship of a few Christian brothers and sisters in someone’s home, singing worship songs, reading the Bible and worshiping God acting against national security?” he asked in one letter.
After frequent assurances from prison authorities in recent months, Nasser received a handwritten letter last week from the Tehran prosecutor’s office, informing him that his request had been rejected. There was no explanation for the decision.
He has not yet been able to bring himself to tell his elderly mother, with whom he used to live and for whom he was the primary carer before his incarceration. Nasser had shared with her in recent months that he hoped soon to return and to ease the burden on the other relatives who have stepped in to care for her since his imprisonment. But now he must inform her that his, and her, wait, goes on.
Nassar has asked for people to pray for him, saying he needs “comfort from the Lord”.