White House calls for release of Iranian pastor

Youcef Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor jailed in Iran on charges of apostasy, is now facing a death sentence. The White House called for his immediate release:

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms reports that Iranian authorities’ reaffirmed a death sentence for Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for the sole reason of his refusal to recant his Christian faith.  This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran’s international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values.  The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution—a fundamental and universal human right.  The trial and sentencing process for Pastor Nadarkhani demonstrates the Iranian government’s total disregard for religious freedom, and further demonstrates Iran’s continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens.  The United States calls upon the Iranian authorities to immediately lift the sentence, release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion.  The United States renews its calls for people of conscience and governments around the world to reach out to Iranian authorities and demand Pastor Nadarkhani’s immediate release.

MSNBC reports that he is still alive:

“At this point, we can confirm that he is still alive,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director for the American Center for Law and Justice, told msnbc.com Wednesday evening.

“We know that the head of Iran’s judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, must approve publicly held executions, but only a small percentage of executions are held in public — most executions in Iran are conducted in secret,” he said. “We are calling on the Iranian government to release the pastor immediately.”

Nadarkhani, 32, was arrested and sentenced to death in Iran’s northern city of Rasht in 2009, Sekulow said.

An appeals court upheld his sentence last year after he refused to reconvert to Islam, his lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah told Reuters.

Continue to pray for Nadarkhani and his family.  Tension are running high with Iran’s nuclear activity and the international community is increasing its pressure on the country’s government.


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