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Iran: Youcef Released

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Pastor
Youcef Nadarkhani was released from prison on Saturday, Sept. 8, after remaining
in custody for nearly three years while fighting apostasy charges and a death
sentence. Authorities dropped the apostasy charge and retained only a charge of
evangelizing Muslims. For the lesser charge, he was sentenced to three years in
prison and given credit for the two years and 11 months already served. With
bail accepted for a 30-day early release, Youcef left the prison and was reunited
with his wife, Fatemeh, and their two sons.

“Thank you to everyone that has supported me with
your prayers,” Youcef told Present Truth Ministries.

The 34-year-old pastor from Rasht, which is about
750 miles northwest of Tehran, was arrested in October 2009 after protesting a
government policy that required children, including his 8- and 9-year-old sons,
to study the Quran in school. He was later charged with apostasy and evangelism
to Muslims. Youcef was tried on Sept. 21–22,
2010, by the First Court of the Revolutionary Tribunal and convicted of
apostasy. He was sentenced to death on Nov. 13.

Authorities tried to re-convert Youcef to Islam
through a variety of methods, including medication, while he was in Lakan
prison. After he repeatedly refused to renounce his Christian faith, his wife
was arrested, put on trial without an attorney and sentenced to life in prison.
She was later released when an attorney appealed her sentence.

Although acquitted by the courts, Youcef may now face
other dangers. Another pastor imprisoned on apostasy charges, Mehdi Dibaj, was
abducted and murdered less than two weeks after his release in 1994. Middle
East Concern reports that at least 16 other Christians remain in detention
because of their activities. Some are serving prison sentences of up to six
years because of their faith.

Sources:
VOM contacts, Present Truth Ministries, Middle East Concern



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