(MorningStarNews) Eight Iranian Christians received heavy jail sentences on Tuesday (July 16) after being found guilty of “action against the national security” and “propaganda against the system” – charges typically leveled against Muslim converts to Christianity in Iran.

Advocacy group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported that the eight members of the Church of Iran were sentenced in Shiraz, 571 miles (920 kilometers) south of Tehran. Seven of them were originally arrested in October 2012, when security forces raided an evening prayer service. The eighth, Massoud Rezaid, was arrested six days later.

Mohammad Roghangir was sentenced to six years in prison; Massoud Rezaie to five years; Mehdi Ameruni and Bijan Farokhpour Haghighi were sentenced to three years; Shahin Lahooti and Suroush Saraie to two-and-half years; and Eskandar Rezaie and Roxana Forughi to one year in prison.

Iranian Christian leaders denied that the eight had any involvement in politically subversive activity.

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