YOUSEF NADARKHANI, the Church of Iran pastor sentenced to death for apostasy, has been released and is at home with his family for the first time in three years – although he is still being closely monitored by the authorities.
During court proceedings that took place on Sept. 8th, Pastor Nadarkhani was acquitted of apostasy, but found guilty of evangelizing Muslims. He was sentenced to three years imprisonment for the latter charge, but released because he had already served this time.
Pastor Nadarkhani was arrested in his home city of Rasht in 2009 soon after questioning the Muslim monopoly on religious instruction for children, which he felt was unconstitutional. He was sentenced to death for apostasy in 2010, a decision that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2011. Although the Iranian penal code did not specify death for apostasy, a constitutional loophole allowed judges to refer to Shari’a law and authoritative fatwas to justify such a sentence. Christian Solidarity Worldwide, which has been monitoring the case, is overjoyed at the news of the pastor’s release, but remains concerned for his well-being and urges the worldwide Church to pray for his continued safety. TAP – Christian Solidarity Worldwide