Monday, July 9, 2012

New charges may be coming in apostasy case

Lakan Prison, where Pastor Nadarkhani is being held.
 (Photo courtesy of Present Truth Ministries)

Iran (CSW/MNN) ― Sunday July 8 marked 1,000 days since Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was imprisoned in Iran for apostasy.

According to a report from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani may face fresh charges in September.

The report makes note of new charges that may concern crimes against national security and possibly blasphemy in order to make his death sentence appear more acceptable. September 8, 2012 appears to be the new date for trial, according to CSW sources.

Nadarkhani faces the death penalty. Without the intervention of Supreme Leader or the Head of the Iranian Judiciary, authorities will carry out the Supreme Court ruling, which upheld the conviction.

It means Nadarkhani could be executed if he refuses to recant. Voice of the Martyrs says he has been pressured consistently--offered freedom in exchange for renouncing his faith on at least four occasions--but refuses to do so.

In a public statement, CSW's Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, "CSW is deeply concerned at reports that Pastor Nadarkhani may face fresh charges in September. The Iranian government is increasingly bringing charges against Christians on political grounds to mask the fact that like Pastor Nadarkhani and Pastor Fathi Malayeri, they have been arrested and imprisoned solely on account of their faith.

"We are also concerned by the lack of due process in these cases and continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of Pastor Nadarkhani, Pastor Fathi Malayeri, and others who are unjustly imprisoned or facing execution following flawed judicial processes. CSW urges the Iranian authorities to ensure respect for the right to freedom of religion, which is guaranteed in the international covenants to which Iran is a signatory, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)."

Please continue to pray for wisdom and strength for Pastor Nadarkhani and for those trying to help him. Ask God to change hearts, and pray for open doors.

CSW is a Christian organization working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights in the pursuit of justice.

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