IRAN WATCH CANADA

Monday, August 27, 2012


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Samantha Schnitzer at sschnitzer@uscirf.gov or (202) 786-0613.

August 24, 2012

STATEMENT ON:
AUGUST 27 TRIAL OF IMPRISONED IRANIAN PASTOR YOUCEF NADARKHANI 

DR. KATRINA LANTOS SWETT, CHAIR OF THE U.S. COMMISSION ON INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM (USCIRF)

“The alleged charges of 'banditry and extortion' are bogus and baseless. The Iranian government should immediately and unconditionally release Pastor Nadarkhani and drop all charges against him. 

Pastor Nadarkhani has served nearly three years in prison for nothing more than practicing his faith and leading a congregation of a few hundred Christians in Rasht, Iran. Previous court proceedings related to Pastor Nadarkhani's case have been a sham. They are contrary to Iranian law and international human rights standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a party," said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, Chair of USCIRF. 


BRIEF BACKGROUND

On August 27, Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian pastor previously sentenced to death for apostasy in Iran, reportedly will be tried on additional new charges.

Pastor Nadarkhani, jailed since October 2009, was sentenced to death for apostasy in 2010 by a court in Gilan province. Prosecutors acknowledged he had never been a Muslim as an adult but said the apostasy law still applies because of his Islamic ancestry. He was born to Muslim parents and converted to Christianity at the age of 19. Rejecting his appeal in June 2011, the court suspended the sentence contingent upon his recanting his faith, which he refused to do during hearings last September.

Since 1999, the State Department has designated Iran as a "country of particular concern," or CPC, for engaging in systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). USCIRF recommended in 2012 that Iran again be designated.

 

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