Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, sentenced to death for apostasy and later acquitted in 2012, has now been charged with “acting against national security”.
On 24th July Yousef Nadarkhani was summoned to the 13th Branch of the Revolutionary Court in Rasht. He was formerly charged with “acting against national security” – a common charge brought against church leaders in Iran – and accused of Zionist activities and evangelism.
Yousef has been given until 31st July to raise 100 million Toman (US$33,000) bail or face arrest.
Yousef, of the self-styled “Church of Iran”, was first imprisoned in 2006 on charges of evangelising Muslims and apostasy from Islam. He was released two weeks later without being formally charged.
In 2009 Yousef questioned the Iranian government’s policy of enforcing study of the Qur’an in schools, claiming that it was against the freedom to practise religion enshrined in the Iranian constitution. He was then arrested on 12th October 2009 on charges related to his protest. The charges were later changed to apostasy and evangelism and in September 2010 Yousef accordingly received a death sentence.
During his time in prison Yousef was put under pressure to convert back to Islam and a written verdict upholding the death sentence was issued dated 12th June 2011 with a provision for annulment of the sentence should he recant his Christian faith.
Following international outrage at the death sentence, a retrial on 8th September 2012 resulted in an acquittal for the charge of apostasy but upheld the charge of evangelism and a sentence of three years’ imprisonment, which Yousef had already completed by then.
On 13th May 2016 Yousef and his wife Tina were arrested along with Mohammadreza Omidi, Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Saheb Fadaie. Yousef and Tina were released soon after but Yasser, Saheb and Mohammedreza were detained for varying periods over the next two weeks and released after posting bail of 100 million Toman (US$33,000) each.
MAY BE CIRCULATED TO GENERAL MAILING LISTS, OUTSIDE ORGANISATIONS, AND QUOTED FROM FREELY CITING “MIDDLE EAST CONCERN” AS THE SOURCE OF THE INFORMATION.
Those close to Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani request prayer that:
a. the oppressive actions against Yousef will stop and the new charges of “acting against national security” will be dropped
b. God will give His peace to Yousef and his family, and that they will not be anxious
c. there will be no further action taken against Yasser, Saheb and Mohammedreza
d. all officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him