.

08 March 2013 - Conflicting reports about Youcef (Sources confirm Youcef is not dead)

08 March 2013 - On 7 March 2013, Assist News received information that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was killed in Iran. The source came from a prominent Christian leader in Iraq.

Jason DeMars from Present Truth Ministries refuted the claim that Youcef has been killed and said that trusted sources inside of Iran spoke to the family of Youcef, who confirmed that he was still alive. 

Please continue to pray for the safety of Pastor Youcef and his family as they continue their work. 

        Youcef Nadarkhani Updates

08 January 2013 - Youcef released (conditional) for second time (Mohabat)

(Mohabat) 08 January 2013 - According to Mohabat News, sources reported that Yousef Nadarkhani who had been arrested on Christmas day for the second time, was released on January 7, 2013, at noon, after being held in prison for 19 days.

As knowledgeable sources claim, the General Prosecutor of Gilan province issued his conditional release verdict. The condition on his release verdict states that he must report to the prison for final administrative processes before the designated deadline.

Yousef Nadarkhani received a summons from the Revolutionary Court asking him to report to the Lakan prison in Rasht to serve the remainder of his sentence that was issued in 2006. He adhered to the summons and reported to the prison, where authorities arrested him immediately.

It seems Nadarkhani's arrest on Christmas day was intended to terrorize Christians and create an atmosphere of insecurity so that they would not gather in one place with Nadarkhani to celebrate Christmas.

It is worth noting that Mr. Nadarkhani had been found guilty of actions against national security in 2006 and was sentenced to three years in prison. Considering the time he has already spent in detention for other charges and for which he was subsequently acquitted, he must still serve another 45 days in prison.

Also, Deutsche Welle news service reported on January 5, 2013 that Hermann Gröhe, Secretary General of Christian Democratic Union (CDU) expressed his concern over the violation of Human Rights in Iran, in a letter to the Iranian ambassador to Germany.

He said the primary reason for writing this letter is the repeated arrest of Yousef Nadarkhani. In his letter,Mr. Gröhe addressed the Iranian ambassador to Germany and said, "I was deeply shocked and angered when I heard that Yousef Nadarkhani was arrested for the second time."

He said he was especially "surprised" that Mr. Nadarkhani was arrested on Christmas day.

Mr. Gröhe told Iran's ambassador "it is unbearable".

He noted, "As you know, I had already declared Nadarkhani's conviction unbearable, and considered it a restriction of Human Rights and religious freedom in Iran."

-------------------------

(Mohabat)  http://www.mohabatnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6100:nadarkhani-conditionally-released-for-the-second-time&catid=36:iranian-christians&Itemid=279

26 December 2012 - Nadarkhani Arrested on Christmas Day to Serve Remainder of his Sentence

Yousef Nadarkhani was called to Lakan prison on Christmas day and is expected to remain there for the New Year. The reports say he was summoned to prison to serve 45 days remaining from an earlier three year sentence.

According to Mohabat News, Human Rights activists in Iran reported that on December 25, 2012, Yousef Nadarkhani reported to Lakan prison in Rasht to serve the rest of his sentence issued in 2006 by the Revolutionary Court, while his case was still open.

Mr. Nadarkhani had been found guilty of actions against national security in 2006 and was sentenced to three years in prison. Considering the time he has already spent in detention for other charges for which he was acquitted, he must still serve another 45 days in prison.

Thus, after receiving a summons from the Office of Enforcement, he reported to Lakan prison, where he was arrested and admitted to the prison.

Prior to this, some media reported that Yousef Nadarkhani had been arrested and transferred to Lakan prison on December 22, 2012 following an attack by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence.

It needs to be pointed out though, that Yousef Nadarkhani had been sentenced to death for apostasy, after being held in prison for a long period of time. However, his sentence was annulled on December 8, 2012, as a result of international pressure and an outcry by Human Rights activists and western powers, including the U.S.A. and Europe.

Yousef Nadarkhani, who belongs to a non-Trinitarian denomination known as the "Church of Iran", was arrested in October 2009, for leaving Islam and spreading his faith among Muslims.

Also, Behnam Irani, another member of the non-Trinitarian group, is still being held in the Central Prison of Karaj.

Human Rights activists in Iran have pleaded with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other international organizations to get involved in Nadarkhani's case and make every effort to secure his release and put an end to pressures on religious minorities in Iran

----------------------------------------------

Dan Wooding of ASSIST Ministries added the following information

RASHT, IRAN (ANS) -- It was a bad Christmas for Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, the Church of Iran pastor who, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), has been returned to jail on an earlier charge.

In September, a court acquitted Pastor Nadarkhani of apostasy, but sentenced him to three years for evangelizing Muslims. Since he had already spent close to three years in Lakan Prison in Rasht, the pastor was released after posting bail.

However, CSW sources now report that Pastor Nadarkhani has now been returned to jail on the orders of the director of Lakan Prison, who claimed he had been released several days too early due to the insistence of his lawyer, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah.

In November, Pastor Nadarkhani was a special guest at CSW’s National Conference in London, England, where he thanked all who had prayed and petitioned for him during his initial incarceration.

Mervyn Thomas, CSW's Chief Executive told the ASSIST News Service: “We are disappointed to hear Pastor Nadarkhani has been returned to prison in such an irregular manner. The timing is insensitive and especially sad for his wife and sons, who must have been looking forward to celebrating Christmas with him for the first time in three years.

“We hope that Pastor Nadarkhani will be released without delay once this alleged sentence has been fully served. We are also asking for prayers for the pastor's safety, and for his family at this difficult time.”

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

Attorney languishing in jail for defending Youcef Nadarkhani (ACLJ) 

(ACLJ) 05 December 2012 - While Pastor Youcef is now free, his Iranian attorney has been imprisoned for more than two months. Iran imprisoned Mohammad Ali Dadkhah for defending people like Pastor Youcef - those persecuted by the Iranian government. Our Tweet for Youcef campaign continues to reach more than 2 million Twitter accounts each day with updates about Pastor Youcef’s attorney.

As ACLJ International Legal Director Tiffany Barrans told the Christian Post, “As the world awakened to the realities of religious persecution in Iran when the masses fought for Pastor Youcef's freedom, we must now shift our attention to defend those who defend the persecuted.”

 

Add your voice to the thousands who are calling for Iran to immediately release Pastor Youcef’s attorney here

28 Nov.2012 - Iranian Pastor Nadarkhani Thanks Supporters at CSW Annual Conference

By Michael Ireland:  Special Reporter, ASSIST News Service

LONDON, UK (ANS) -- An Iranian pastor who was convicted of apostasy has expressed his thankfulness to those who prayed for him while in prison.

 

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was a special guest speaker at For Such a Time as This, Christian Solidarity Worldwide's National Conference in London on November 10, where he thanked those who had prayed and petitioned on his behalf during his incarceration in Iran for almost three years.

 

"It is the opportunity for me to share about what the Lord did for me and to thank you because you supported me by your prayers, you supported my family in a very difficult time," he said, according to a media release from the organization obtained by ANS.

 

Nadarkhani added: "My prayer is I ask the Lord to bless you for what you did for me as a small member of the body of Christ. Today my presence here is the will of God and the result of what your prayers did for me."

 

Pastor Nadarkhani also spoke at four services at Holy Trinity Brompton on November 11, and will shortly be returning to his family in Rasht, Iran.

 

CSW explained Pastor Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy in 2010 but released on September 8, 2012 after a court appearance in which he was acquitted of apostasy but found guilty of evangelizing Muslims. Although he was sentenced to three years imprisonment, he was released as he was deemed to have already served his time.

 

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: "It was a pleasure to welcome Pastor Nadarkhani to our conference and to hear his testimony of faith and perseverance, and of his love for God, for his family and for his nation. His quiet courage, integrity and lack of recrimination cannot fail to have inspired anyone who heard him to deepen their own commitment to their faith."

 

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

"Thank You" - A letter from Pastor Youcef to all who prayed

Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has spoken out in a letter of thanks to his supporters around the world after his release from the Iranian prison where he was held for three years for refusing to renounce his faith.  (See letter below)

 

The carefully worded, approximately 600-word letter does not express any bitterness toward the regime that kept him in prison on charges that were not always clear. Nadarkhani, a married father, was freed one month shy of three years and cannot leave the country for at least another month under the terms of his release. The letter cites the groundswell of support from around the world, including diplomatic efforts by several countries and a Twitter campaign that involved more than a million people.

 

"I want to express my gratitude to all of those who have supported me, openly or in complete secrecy."

 “I also want to express my gratitude towards those who, all around the world, have worked for my cause, or should I say the cause that I defend. You are all very dear to my heart,” Nadarkhani said in the letter dated Sept. 8, the day he was released. It was written in his native Farsi and translated by Present Truth Ministries.

 

“Despite the fact that I have been found guilty of apostasy according to a certain reading of the Shariah, I am grateful that (God) gave the leaders of the country the wisdom to break that judgment taking into account other facts of that same Shariah,” he also wrote.

 

Nadarkhani's plight began when he went to his sons' school to complain that educators were forcing lessons from the Koran on the boys, now 7 and 9. That led to his arrest for allegedly using his home as a place of worship and attempting to convert Muslims and ultimately his conviction by the Iranian Supreme Court. His release came when the court downgraded his crime to "evangelizing to Muslims" and let him out with what amounted to time served.

 

The campaign to win Nadarkhani's freedom was largely spearheaded by the American Center for Law and Justice, which tracked his court appearances throughout his incarceration.

 

"Pastor Youcef’s courage and faith is awe inspiring. It is clear that regardless of whether Pastor Youcef ever received one letter of support of the thousands sent or heard one news report on the international outcry for his freedom while in prison, he felt the prayers and support of the entire international community," Tiffany Barrans, the center's international legal director, told FoxNews.com.

 

The organization also has spotlighted several other Christians who remain imprisoned in Iran for their faith

 

"We must continue to uplift and support those who remain imprisoned or persecuted for their faith," Barrans said. "Let us continue to cry out that Iran, and other violators of these human rights, uphold their international obligation to protect the innocent and honour freedom of religion."

 

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/09/21/pastor-youcef-nadarkhani-writes-letter-thanks-to-supporters/?intcmp=trending#ixzz27GUTpfhY

 

Letter of Gratitude

Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani wrote the following letter to all those who supported him and his stand for Christ, “the cause that I defend,” following his release after nearly 3 years of illegal imprisonment in Iran for his faith.

 

Not to us, LORD, not to us, but to Your Name be glory , for Your faithfulness, for Your loyalty….Psalm 115:1

 

Salaam! (Peace be upon you!)

 

I glorify and give grace to the Lord with all my heart. I am grateful for all the blessings that He gave me during my whole life. I am especially grateful for His goodness and divine protection that characterized the time of my detention.

 

I also want to express my gratitude towards those who, all around the world, have worked for my cause, or should I say the cause that I defend. I want to express my gratitude to all of those who have supported me, openly or in complete secrecy . You are all very dear to my heart. May the Lord bless you and give you His perfect and sovereign Grace.

 

Indeed I have been put to the test, the test of faith which is, according to the Scriptures “more precious than perishable gold.” But I have never felt loneliness, I was all the time aware of the fact that it wasn’t a solitary battle, for I have felt all the energy and support of those who obeyed their conscience and fought for the promotion of the justice and the rights of all human beings. Thanks to these efforts, I have now the enormous joy to be by my wonderful wife and my children. I am grateful for these people through whom God has been working. All of this is very encouraging.

 

During that period, I had the opportunity to experience in a marvellous way the Scripture that says: “Indeed, as the sufferings of Christ abound for us, our encouragement abound through Christ.” He has comforted my family and has given them the means to face that difficult situation. In His Grace, He provided for their spiritual and material needs, taking away from me a heavy weight.

 

The Lord has wonderfully provided through the trial, allowing me to face the challenges that were in front of me. As the Scriptures says, “He will not allow us to be tested beyond our strength….”

Despite the fact that I have been found guilty of apostasy according to a certain reading of the Shar’ia, I am grateful that He gave the leaders of the country , the wisdom to break that judgment taking into account other facts of that same Shar’ia. It is obvious that the defenders of the Iranian right and the legal experts have made an important effort to enforce the law and the right. I want to thank those who have defended the right until the end.

 

I am happy to live in a time where we can take a critical and constructive look to the past. This has allowed the writing of universal texts aiming at the promotion of the rights of man. Today , we are debtors of these efforts provided by dear people who have worked for the respect of human dignity and have passed on to us these universal significant texts.

 

I am also debtor of those who have faithfully passed on the Word of God, that very Word who makes us heirs of God.

 

Before ending, I want to express a prayer for the establishment of an unending and universal peace, so that the will of the Father be done on earth as it is in heaven. Indeed, every thing passes, but the Word of God, source of all peace, will last eternally .

 

May the grace and mercy of God be multiplied to you. Amen!

Youcef Nadarkhani 8 September 2012

 

Pastor Youcef’s letter (translated into English through Present Truth Ministries) was written the day he was released from an Iranian prison less than two weeks ago. Pastor Youcef had been convicted of apostasy (converting to Christianity) and sentenced to execution by hanging. He was imprisoned for 1062 days, just under 3 years, in violation of Iranian and international law that protects religious liberty .

 

Pastor Youcef’s story reached millions around the world, and the international outcry for his release greatly impacted his case. The ACLJ’s Tweet for Youcef campaign reached over 3.1million Twitter accounts worldwide with news about his imprisonment. We will continue fighting for and raising awareness about the hundreds of thousands of people facing persecution for their faith around the world, including hundreds who have been arrested in Iran for their Christian faith.

Join people of faith around the world this weekend celebrating Pastor Youcef’s release, praying for his and his family ’s safety , and praying for all those facing persecution for their faith. Visit48HoursforFreedom.org to learn how you can take action. 

11 September 2012:  More news on the release of Pastor Youcef

Washington, D.C. - International Christian Concern (ICC)

 

In September 2010, Nadarkhani was given the death sentence for apostasy in a provincial court. After appealing the decision, the verdict was upheld by Iran's Supreme Court in July 2011. Nadarkhani was told his sentence could be overturned if he recanted his Christian faith. "I cannot," Nadarkhani replied.

 

Last month, reports began surfacing that new charges may be leveled against Nadarkhani to give judges fresh impetus to carry out a death sentence. Instead, a trial court in the Gilan Province on September 8 lowered Nadarkhani's charges to evangelistic activities. The pastor was released with time served, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

 

"After languishing in prison for almost three years, he has been reunited with his family," Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of ACLJ, told Fox News. "Pastor Youcef's story is an example of how the world can join together to ensure that justice is served and freedom preserved"..

 

Nadarkhani was greeted by his wife and two sons when he left the prison. It is unknown, however, if the pastor will be able to remain in the country.

 

"While I am sure that Pastor Youcef would prefer to stay with his flock, the high-profile nature of his case may put him, his family, and his church in extreme danger as long as they stay in Iran," said Ann Buwalda of the Virginia-based Jubilee Campaign.

 

Aidan Clay, ICC Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, "While ICC welcomes the news of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's release, we strongly condemn the brutal intimidation tactics used by Iranian officials to suppress religious freedom and persecute minorities. If not for keen international attention on Nadarkhani's case, the pastor would still be in prison or may have already been executed. The battle is still far from won. There are at least 16 Christians and hundreds of political activists and religious minorities, including from the Bahá'í faith, that linger in Iranian prisons. Among them is Christian Pastor Behnam Irani who is suffering from poor health and being denied medical treatment in Karaj. ICC calls on the Iranian government to display its commitment to international human rights standards by immediately releasing all prisoners of conscience."

International Christian Concern:  www.persecution.org

8 Sept. 2012: Pastor Youceff Nadarkhani has been released!

INcontext Ministries has confirmed the following reports from Christian Solidarity Worldwide,  BosNewsLife and Christian Today 

Reunited: Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani (l) and his wife Fatemah Tina Pasindedih. Photo: Church of Iran for BosNewsLife.

 

CSW has been informed that apostasy charges against Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani have been dropped

CSW, which supports the persecuted church, has been informed that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been freed from prison and is now at home with his family.

Pastor Nadarkhani made an appearance in court today during which the apostasy charges against him were dropped.

However, he was found guilty of evangelising Muslims and sentenced to three years in prison.

He was released immediately because he had already served this time in prison, after being held behind bars since the apostasy charges were first levelled against him in 2009.

Pastor Nadarkhani was arrested in his home city of Rasht after he questioned the Muslim monopoly of religious instruction for children, which he felt was unconstitutional.

He was sentenced to death for apostasy the following year. Then in 2011, the Supreme Court said the charges would be dropped if he converted to Islam, something Pastor Nadarkhani refused to do.

CSW had expected the pastor to face new charges in court today for unspecified crimes, but he was instead released.

CSW’s Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas said he was delighted over Pastor Nadarkhani's release.

"We commend the Iranian judiciary for this step, which is a triumph for justice and the rule of law," he said.

"While we rejoice at this wonderful news, we do not forget hundreds of others who are harassed or unjustly detained on account of their faith, and CSW is committed to continue campaigning until all of Iran's religious minorities are able to enjoy religious freedom as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is party.”

INcontext: We praise the Lord for His miraculous intervention and once again appeal to all Christians to continue to pray earnestly for Youcef and his family. Youcef has been released from prison but he is not a "free" man yet and he certainly is not out of danger. It happened before that Christians were released simply to be found murdered later. Youcef and his family will still be threatened and under surveillance. Please continue to pray for them

8 September 2012:  Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in court today (Saturday) to possibly face new charges

By Dan Wooding: Founder of ASSIST Ministries

IRAN (ANS) -- Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned since October 2009, faces another court hearing today (September 8, 2012).

 

According to Middle East Concern (www.meconcern.org), the summons does not state the purpose of the hearing, but added that Pastor Youcef has been informed verbally that he will face a new trial on different charges.

 

However, the Farsi Christian News Network (www.fcnn.com) has reported that the charges of “banditry and extortion” will replace “apostasy” for the 35-year-old pastor.

 

“The new leveled charges raise concern that following widespread international criticism about the ruling issued for Mr. Nadarkhani, Iranian authorities wish to influence the case process by bringing up arbitrary charges. The new trial adds to these concerns,” said a spokesperson for FCCN.

 

It was in September 2010 the Revolutionary Tribunal of Gilan Province found him guilty of apostasy and sentenced him to death - a verdict upheld by the Supreme Court in July 2011. In September 2011 he faced further court hearings during which he refused to recant his Christian faith. This apostasy conviction has not been rescinded.

 

“In addition to pastor Yousef, at least 16 other believers remain detained in Iran because of their Christian faith and activities. These include pastor Behnam Irani, detained in Karaj, who continues to suffer poor health. Last month it was reported that Behnam has been denied access to adequate medical treatment and that he remains very ill,” said a spokesperson for Middle East Concern.”

 

The spokesperson added that Iranian Christians “rejoice” that Youcef's life has been spared thus far. They request our continued intercession that:

 

  • Youcef’s death sentence will be revoked, his conviction overturned and any further charges against him dropped
  • Youcef, his wife, Fatemeh, and their two sons will know the comfort, presence and hope of Jesus, and that the family will be reunited soon
  • Behnam will know the healing touch of Jesus, that and he, his wife, Christine, and their daughter and son, will know the presence of Jesus, and that this family will be reunited soon
  • All believers in Iran facing trials because of their faith will know the Spirit's guiding wisdom
  • Those detained for their faith will know the presence and peace of Jesus, remain strong in their faith and clear in their witness and testimony
  • Christians throughout Iran will not be intimidated but will know the Lord's enabling and guidance
  • All officials involved will love mercy, act justly, learn about Jesus and choose to follow Him.
  • Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent with BosNewsLife Middle East Service aaded the following in a report from:  http://www.bosnewslife.com/23270-breaking-iran-churches-to-testify-against-pastor-nadarkhani-in-new-trial

    TEHRAN, IRAN (BosNewsLife)-- Iran's religious leadership has pressured church leaders to testify against a jailed Iranian pastor who faces a new trial Saturday, September 8, for "apostasy", which carries the death penalty.

    Youcef Nadarkhani, 35, was to be brought to a special court in his home city of Rasht at around 11:00 am local time, explained Firouz Khandjani, a council member of the pastor's 'Church of Iran' evangelical house church movement.

    Nadarkhani was already sentenced to death for "apostasy", or abandoning Islam, but pressure from the international community reportedly prompted Iran's religious leaders to demand a new trial.

    "They have asked churches who are linked to the government to also testify against us," Khandjani warned in an interview with BosNewsLife. "That is not a good sign. They may just look for reasons to kill him."

    He added however that, "Many true [church] leaders have already left [the country]."

    SECRET SERVICE

    Secret service agents also tried to infiltrate the Church of Iran, in part to influence decisions on its leadership, Christians said.

    "Iran could apply the Chinese model," Khandjani stressed, referring to the state-controlled churches in China. "A lot of leaders could perform some coup inside their own movements," to become closer to
    Iran's regime, he warned.

    Khandjani also cautioned that the pastor may feel "intimidated as five judges are involved" in Saturday's trial.

    Nadarkhani has been behind bars since 2009 when he was captured in his home city of Rasht to register his house church, which is part of the Church of Iran movement.

    He also questioned the Muslim monopoly of religious instruction for children, which he claimed was unconstitutional.

    DEATH SENTENCE


    Nadarkhani was later sentenced to death by hanging, though a court in Gilan province asked a final opinion from Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khameini, a move critics saw as an attempt to make someone else responsible for executing the married father of two children.

    Iranian officials indicated in December however that they could release the pastor if he agreed to make a statement saying Islam's Prophet Mohammed was "a messenger sent by God" Christians with close knowledge about the situation told BosNewsLife earlier.

    Pastor Nadarkhani reportedly refused to do so saying that statement would "amount to abandoning" his faith in Jesus Christ.

    He has been offered freedom in exchange for renouncing his faith in Jesus Christ on at least four occasions, Christians familiar with the case said.

    "So I ask all the beloved ones to pray for me as the holy Word has said," Nadarkhani explained in a recent letter, referring to the Bible, regarded by Christians as God's Word.

    FREEDOM 'PREPARED'

    "At the end I hope my freedom will be prepared as soon as possible [and that] the authorities of my country will act with [a] free will according to their law and commandments which [they] are answerable to."

    There are at least 100,000 devoted Christians in Iran, according to conservative church estimates and Christians say Iranian officials want to prevent the spread of Christianity in this strict Islamic nation.

    The U.S. State Department has expressed concern about the imprisonment of Nadarkhani, who is married with two children.

    In a statement, the State Department said recently that it noted that "July 8 marked 1,000 days Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has spent in an Iranian prison."

    The Department said "Pastor Nadarkhani still faces the threat of execution for simply following his faith", adding thar "we repeat our call for Iranian authorities to release him immediately.”

    Khandjani, who knows the family well, told BosNewsLife that "this time is very difficult for his wife"
    and that his church has urged Christians around the world to pray for them.

    Iran's leadership has denied wrongdoing and claims Nadarkhani is held because of his "criminal" behavior.

19 August 2012 - Youcef court case on 8 Sept 2012

In his most recent court summons, Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has once again been ordered to appear in court on Sept. 8 2012 to face the "charges brought against him."

 

The evasive reference to Nadarkhani's internationally disputed apostasy charge comes as "no surprise" to Jordan Sekulow, executive council for the American Center for Law and Justice, who has been following Nadarkhani's case from the beginning.  "Iran has repeatedly attempted to confuse the international community by alleging that Pastor Youcef is nothing more than a common criminal. If Iran can succeed in painting Pastor Youcef as the common criminal, the world will stop crying out for his release," Sekulow told The Christian Post via emailed statement on Aug. 16.

The U.S. State Department issued a statement Monday to Iran demanding that ... "After we were able to expose, by publicly releasing the court's traditionally secretive verdicts, that Pastor Youcef was tried and convicted only of apostasy, Iran has had to back pedal its lies," he added.

 

In the court summons, Iran requests Nadarkhani to appear for his hearing on Sept. 8, 2012 at 9:00 a.m.  The pastor, who originally received an execution sentence for his apostasy charge, has remained in prison for 1,060 days, the length of which violates Iran's constitution, according to the ACLJ.

 

"Pastor Youcef's indefinite and arbitrary detention, which has continued for almost three years, violates Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is obliged to follow," Sekulow told CP.  "Iran's own laws required the judiciary to issue its written decision within ten days of the hearing held in September 2011. Its failure to do so signifies its total disregard for the rule of law," Sekulow continued.

 

"Iran also seems to ignore that Pastor Youcef's case has done great damage to the reputation of Islam and to relations between nations and between people of faith around the world," he concluded.

 

Nadarkhani, a house pastor, was arrested in Oct. 2009 and charged with apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims.

 

In Sept. 2011, Iran's semi-official news agency, Fars News, reported that Nadarkhani was on trial for charges of rape, extortion, and Zionism, The Christian Post previously reported.  Leaked court documents later clarified that Nadarkhani was in fact on trial for apostasy, and critics suspected the faulted Fars News report to be an attempt to alleviate international pressure regarding Nadarkhani's religion-based charges.

 

Sekulow suspects that Iranian court has continued to extend and change Nadarkhani's charges and trial in an attempt to alleviate the international pressure it has accumulated for arresting the pastor based on his Christian faith.

 

Countries including Great Britain, the United States, and Brazil have all spoken out demanding Nadarkhani be released from prison.

 

Although this most recent court summons implies that perhaps Nadarkhani's apostasy charge may have been dropped, Sekulow tells CP not to count on it.  "We have no information that the regime has acquitted Pastor Youcef of the apostasy charge for which he was sentenced to death. The Iranian regime has been dishonest repeatedly in the past. Until we see Pastor Youcef walk freely, we cannot trust anything the regime might say or do," Sekulow previously told CP.

 

Nadarkhani continues to await his Sept. 8 court date in prison, while his wife, Fatema Pasindedih, and his two sons, await further news.


Read more at
 http://www.christianpost.com/news/youcef-nadarkhani-receives-new-court-summons-iran-evades-mention-of-apostasy-charge-80137/#0J6OwUEoD5C3rBQb.99

6 August 2012 - Youcef Will Stand Trial Again

The new trial of Youcef Nadarkhani is coming up on September 8, 2012 at 9am Iranian time. We still don’t have an exact idea what his trial will be about. The wording in the court document said, “regarding the charges against you...” However, the court document usually states what the charges are specifically. Some speculate that it means they are referring to the previous charges of apostasy and others take a more careful tone stating that they do not know what the charges are.
 
We do know that the Lord Jesus knows, that he has a plan for brother Youcef and that he is with him. As Paul wrote in Philippians 1:19-20, “for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” 

For a full updated story of Youcef Nadarkhani with added photos and the letters he wrote and were translated into English you can visit the website at Youcef Nadarkhani here.

25 July 2012 - Continued prayer for Youcef needed

Our contact in Iran has confirmed that brother Youcef Nadarkhani is alive, doing well and also is very hopeful for the upcoming trial. Neither he, nor his attorneys have received any information about his apostasy conviction. We have to assume he is still under the death penalty until we are officially notified. They still have not received any information about what his charges will be at the upcoming trial. Please continue to pray and spread the word about him.

 

In our last update we informed you that brother Behnam was transferred to the prison hospital as a result of becoming unconscious from the pain and blood loss due to his chronic ulcer. We will continue to follow up with our contacts to get more information about his current status.

 

We continue to receive various reports that many men and women are interested in and receiving the Gospel in Iran. The Iranian authorities think that they can stop the move of the Spirit. However, the harder they try the more people come to Jesus Christ. The Iranian government has no idea they are merely a tool in the hand of God to drive people away from Islam and create a hunger for something else in their hearts.

 

We must not forget that this is a spiritual battle and not merely a political battle, but rather a fight between Light and Darkness, God and Satan. As Christians we cannot sit on the sideline in this battle. We are called to put on the full armor of God and to battle against the enemy. Paul wrote in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” In order to obey this verse we need to take concrete action and do something. We cannot bear each others burdens sitting on the sideline, getting news, hearing reports and doing nothing. I can tell you what to do, but it will be so much more effective if you ask God what he wants you to do to bear the burdens of the persecuted. 

In Christ, 
Brother Jason 
Present Truth Ministries

17 July 2012 - Pastor Nadarkhani in good health but waiting

We have received word that pastor Youcef Nadarkhani of Rasht, Iran, who is still in prison, is in good health and has strong faith. Neither he nor his attorneys have received any official notification from the court regarding his upcoming trial. We wonder how the attorneys can argue a case before the court if they do not know what charges are being brought. This, once again, demonstrates the dishonesty of the Iranian legal system, but our God is able to deliver and keep brother Youcef. Please stand with brother Youcef in prayer, and continue to spread the word about his situation.

6 July 2012 - Pastor Nadarkhani May Face New Charges in September

RASHT, IRAN (ANS) -- Iranian Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who has spent nearly 1,000 days in prison on charges of apostasy, may face fresh charges in September, pertaining to crimes against national security and possibly blasphemy, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) www.csw.org.uk.

According to CSW's sources, judges have reportedly received instructions to try Pastor Nadarkhani on new, trumped-up charges in order to make his sentence appear more acceptable.

CSW says in a media update that it understands a date for the new trial may have been set for September 8, 2012.

Pastor Nadarkhani is currently in prison facing the death sentence for apostasy, which was upheld following an appeal at the Supreme Court. He was arrested in his home city of Rasht in 2009, soon after questioning the Muslim monopoly of religious instruction for children, which he felt was unconstitutional.

CSW says Nadarkhani's case has twice been referred to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who has yet to issue a final ruling. He has been offered freedom in exchange for renouncing his faith on at least four occasions, but has consistently refused to do so.

CSW also stated that without the intervention of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or Mr. Sadegh Larijani, the Head of the Iranian Judiciary, who have the authority to halt an execution, the authorities are obliged to carry out the Supreme Court ruling, which stated that Pastor Nadarkhani could be executed if he refused to recant.

Sunday July 8, 2012, will mark 1,000 days since Pastor Nadarkhani was imprisoned.

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 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)."

Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries (www.presenttruthmn.com ) told ANS, "We received some news that Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill wrote a letter to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini, requesting the pardon of brother Youcef Nadarkhani."

The details are based on an Interfax (www.interfax-religion.com ) report titled: "Iranian ayatollah promises Russian Church to solicit pardon for convicted pastor."

The report, datelined Moscow, June 27, 2012, says "Iran will probably pardon Protestant pastor 'Jusef' [their spelling] Nadarkhani, sentenced to death for his recantation of Islam and coming to Christianity, Secretary General of the World Assembly for Proximity of the Islamic Schools of Thoughts Ayatollah Mohammad-Ali Taskhiri told Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, in Moscow."

The report says: "We are aware that Nadarkhani's life depends on the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who is to pass the final verdict," Metropolitan Hilarion said.

It states: "Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia asked the Iranian spiritual leader in September 2011 to pardon the pastor, he said, adding the he himself had referred the same request to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It adds: "Ayatollah Taskhiri said in a reply, citing his sources, that the death sentence on the Iranian pastor had been overturned and assured Metropolitan Hilarion that after his return to Iran he would hand over the Russian Patriarch's request for the pastor's pardon to the office of the Iranian spiritual leader," the External Church Relations Department said on its website.

The Interfax report said Taskhiri is the leader of an Iranian delegation that has arrived in Moscow to attend a meeting of the Russian-Iranian Commission for Orthodox-Islam dialogue.

The Interfax report added: "The death sentence handed down to Nadarkhani on September 22, 2010, caused a global resonance. The death sentence was condemned by the White House. Notorious American Pastor Terry Jones burnt the Koran in protest against the arrest of his Iranian colleague."

DeMars told ANS: "Our sources in Iran have informed us that Youcef has been officially notified of a new trial for crimes against national security in September. We assume by implication that this means the charges of apostasy have been dropped since the new charges have been issued, but we have no confirmation of that."

DeMars added: "At this point we need to keep Youcef's case in the news. Please publicize this information. Youcef has not committed any crimes against Iran's national security. He was the pastor of a network of house churches in Rasht and was not performing any political activities against the state. In fact, they pray for their country and its leaders."

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

Present Truth Ministries (PTM) supports missionaries in the Middle East, providing relief for families of pastors imprisoned for their faith. PTM may be contacted through its website www.presenttruthmn.com 

For further information on CSW or to arrange interviews with CSW staff, please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email kiri@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk .

06 July 2012 - Apostasy charges dropped 

(CBN News) 06 July 2012 - Present Truth Ministries is reporting that apostasy charges have been dropped against Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.

That would suggest that Pastor Youcef's death sentence has been overturned. He is now reportedly charged with committing crimes against national security and will face a new trial beginning September 8, 2012.

Though Pastor Youcef may have escaped execution--at least for now--he is likely to remain in prison for a long, long time.

This is more proof that the Iranian regime feels so threatened by this man (who has planted one of the fastest growing house churches in the country) that it wants to keep him locked away where he will be prevented from spreading the Gospel beyond the prison. What they don't realize is that God will continue to find a way to reach Iranians for Christ with or without Youcef Nadarkhani--their efforts will not stop the good news from spreading throughout Iran.

Here's the full text received today from Jason DeMars and Present Truth Ministries:

We received some news that Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill wrote a letter to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini, requesting the pardon of brother YoucefNadarkhani. The leader of External-Church Affairs from Moscow, Metropolitan Hilarion said, “We are aware that Nadarkhani’s life depends on the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who is to pass the final verdict.”

“Ayatollah Taskhiri [a leader from Iran] said in a reply, citing his sources, that the death sentence on the Iranian pastor had been overturned and assured Metropolitan Hilarion that after his return to Iran he would hand over the Russian Patriarch’s request for the pastor’s pardon to the office of the Iranian spiritual leader.”

Our sources in Iran have informed us that Youcef has been officially notified of a new trial for crimes against national security in September. We assume by implication that this means the charges of apostasy have been dropped since the new charges have been issued, but we have no confirmation of that.

At this point we need to keep Youcef’s case in the newsPlease publicize this information. Youcef has not committed any crimes against Iran’s national security. He was the pastor of a network of house churches in Rasht and was not performing any political activities against the state. In fact, they pray for their country and its leaders.

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(CBN News)  http://blogs.cbn.com/globallane/archive/2012/07/05/pastor-youcef-update.aspx

27 June 2012 - Brazilian Christians stand up for Pastor Youcef

Even though little news is currently available on Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani it is safe to assume that he is still alive and remaining faithful to Christ.  Postive developments surrounding the case was a recent protest in Brazil at the Rio+20-UN conference.

 

Andrea Madambashi , Christian Post Correspondent, reports as follows:

 

Brazilian protesters have come out in force at Rio+20 – the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, to demand that Iran release Christian Pastor YoucefNadarkhani.

 

The protest was organized Brazilian Pastor Silas Malafaia and took place on Thursday 21 June  in front of the Royal Tulip Hotel in Sao Conrado, in the South Zone of Rio de Janeiro. The protest location was chosen as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was staying at that hotel as a conference delegate.

 

Aiming to draw the attention of the Iranian president and the international press, protesters held banners that read "President Ahamdinejad free Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani! Religious Freedom in Iran now!"

 

An official letter was also delivered to the Iranian president, in which Brazilian Christian pastors made a plea for the life of Pastor Nadarkhani, who has been arrested and imprisoned in Iran. He has been accused of apostasy for having converted from Islam, and many fear he will face the death penalty.

 

"We, Christian pastors of Brazil, representing millions of evangelicals in our country, hereby appeal for the life of your co-citizen imprisoned, Mr. Youssef (sic) Nadarkhani, who has through the Internet sent out appeals for prayers on his behalf and on behalf his family."

 

"We evangelicals of Brazil, following the biblical principle of tolerance and above all the rights of free will, defend the rights of all Muslims who are presently living in Brazil to freely confess their faith and their culture. And, in the same way, we expect reciprocity of your government towards the Iranian Christians in your country."

Good diplomatic relations between Brazil and Iran are seen as hopeful for the efforts to release Pastor Nadarkhani.

 

According Jordan Sekulow, director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) in the United States, who is monitoring the case, the only thing that can save the pastor is continued international pressure, particularly from countries such as Brazil that have close ties with Iran.

 

Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, 34, has pastored for a network of house churches in the Middle East country. Before his arrest in 2009, he was the pastor of a 400 person congregation in the Gilan province.

 

Nadarkhani was arrested in October 2009 for protesting the mandatory teaching of Islam at his children's schools. His charges were later changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims.

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Christian Post: http://global.christianpost.com/news/brazilian-christians-use-rio-un-conference-to-plea-to-iranian-president-to-release-youcef-nadarkhani-77152/

23 May 2012 - Pressure mounting for the release of Past Nadarkhani

TEHRAN – Global pressure is increasing on Iran to halt the execution of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, with over one million people reportedly participating in an online social networking service demanding his release and actions across Europe.

 

The conservative American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) group said over one million people now follow the “Tweet for Youcef” campaign. It allows the ACLJ to use accounts of Internet service Twitter to post daily Nadarkhani updates and the number of days he has been jailed for refusing to recant his faith in Christ and return to Islam.

 

In the Dutch city of The Hague, a petition to save the life of the 34-year-old pastor was hand delivered to the Iranian ambassador.  Joël Voordewind, a Dutch member of Parliament, and rights group Jubilee Campaign offered the petition with over 20,000 signatures directly to the Iranian Ambassador, the group told BosNewsLife.

 

Iranian ambassador Kazem Gharib Abadi reportedly told Voordewind this week that the pastor “was still alive”.  Jubilee Campaign said there have been false reports on the Internet that the pastor was already executed. It was not immediately clear who distributed the information.

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RescueChristians.org:  http://www.rescuechristians.org/2012/03/20/iran-global-pressure-was-increasing-to-halt-the-execution-of-pastor-youcef-nadarkhani/

9 May 2012 - Letter from Youcef

Jason DeMars from Present Truth Ministries has received a letter from brother Youcef Nadarkhani regarding his current condition, his thoughts about his persecution, and his response towards the burning of Qurans.

07 May 2012
Greetings from your servant and younger brother in Christ, Youcef Nadarkhani.
To: All those who are concerned and worried about my current situation.
First, I would like to inform all of my beloved brothers and sisters that I am in perfect health in the  flesh and spirit. And I try to have a little different approach from others to these days, and consider it as the day of exam and trial of my faith. And during these days which are hard in order to prove your loyalty and sincerity to God, I am trying to do the best in my power to stay right with what I have learned from God's commandments.
I need to remind my beloveds, though my trial due has been so long, and as in the flesh I wish these days to end, yet I have surrendered myself to God's will.

I am neither a political person nor do I know about political complicity, but I know that while there are many things in common between different cultures, there are also differences between these cultures around the world which can result in criticism, which most of the times response to this criticisms will be harsh and as a result will lengthen our problems.

From time to time I am  informed about the news which is spreading in the media about my current situation, for instance being supported by various churches and famous politicians who have asked for my release, or campaigns and human rights activities which are going on against the charges which are applied to me. I do believe that these kind of activities can be very helpful in order to reach freedom, and respecting human rights in a right way can bring forth positive results.

I want to appreciate all those are trying to reach this goal. But at the other hand, I'd like to announce my disagreement with the insulting activities which cause stress and trouble, which unfortunately are done with the justification (excuse) of defending human rights and freedom, for the results are so clear and obvious for me.
I try to be humble and obedient to those who are in power, obedience to those in authority which God has granted to the officials of my country, and pray for them to rule the country according to the will of God and be successful in doing this. For I know in this way I have obeyed God's word.  I try to obey along with those whom I see in a common situation with me. They never had any complaint, but just let the power of God be manifested in their lives, and though sometimes we read that they have used this right to defend themselves, for they had this right, I am not an exception as well and have used all possibilities and so forth and am waiting for the final result.

So I ask all the beloved ones to pray for me as the holy word has said. At the end I hope my freedom will be prepared as soon as possible, as the authorities of my country will do with free will according to their law and commandments which are answerable to.  
May God's Grace and Mercy be upon you now and forever. Amen.
Youcef Nadarkhani

In Christ,

Jason DeMars
Present Truth Ministries

4 May 2012 Attorney representing Youcef sentenced to prison (MarketWatch) 

(MarketWatch) 04 May 2012 - The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which has been working to secure the release of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, today called Iran's decision to imprison Pastor Youcef's attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah (see picture), "very troubling" - a move that puts the Christian pastor in greater danger. Dadkhah told a news organization that Iranian officials told him that he has been convicted of acting against national security, spreading propaganda against the regime, and is expected to be jailed soon.

"The news that this renowned human rights attorney has been sentenced to prison by Iranian officials is very troubling," said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ. "This development only reinforces the fact that Iran has no regard for basic human rights. It also raises further concern about the fate of Pastor Youcef. With his attorney facing nine years in prison, and no other lawyer likely to take the case, Pastor Youcef has no legal advocate, which places him at greater risk."

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(marketWatch) ACLJ calls iranian decision to jail Christian pastors attorney "very troubling", putting pastor Youcef a greater risk  http://www.marketwatch.com/story/aclj-calls-iranian-decision-to-jail-christian-pastors-attorney-very-troubling-putting-pastor-youcef-at-greater-risk-2012-05-03

26 April 2012 - Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani remains in prison in Rasht, Iran

Our sources confirm that pastor Youcef is alive and is doing well by the grace of God. We are still waiting for a written verdict to be delivered regarding his September 2011 retrial. The Ayatollah has not responded to the local courts request for his legal opinion.  

It is unlikely he will respond because, if he does, it will create a legal precedent, and he neither wants to compromise on core Islamic penal code nor does he want to face the certain international uproar and loss of face that comes with executing a Christian.  Pray that God works in the hearts of the local court and local officials.

Present Truth Ministries

19 April 2012 - Video update on Youcef Nadarkhani

Present Truth Ministries released a video update on April 19, 2012. In this video there is an update about brother Youcef Nadarkhani, the 12 Christians in Rasht that were tried on Easter Sunday and a testimony of a former Muslim who came to Christ.

Please share this video with your friends.  Click on the above picture and it will bring you to the video on YouTube.

In Christ,

Jason DeMars

Present Truth Ministries 

11 April- Today is Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's birthday, 3rd one in prison

ChristianPost) 11 April 2012 - Christian mission organization Present Truth Ministries has planned an international fasting and prayer vigil for April 11, 2012, in honor of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's 35th birthday. This is the third birthday Nadarkhani has spent in an Iranian prison for his Christian faith.

Jason DeMars, founder of Present Truth Ministries, has called on supporters to pray on April 11 for Nadarkhani's wisdom, strength, peace, and release from prison.

"The most powerful action we can take as Christians is to pray. The Bible says, 'The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.' We can use our voices to speak against this injustice, we can work with various advocacy groups and make political statements and we need to do that," DeMars told The Christian Post via email.

DeMars went on to say that prayer is a far more powerful form of advocacy.

"When we fast and pray together we build up a great power that moves the heart of God to take action. God can work on the hearts of Iranian officials in a way that no government can. We pray that God will forgive Youcef's persecutors and that they will see something real and genuine to bring them to repentance," he added.

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(CP) Fasting, Prayer Vigil to Be Held for Youcef Nadarkhani's Birthday                                     http://global.christianpost.com/news/fasting-prayer-vigil-to-be-held-for-youcef-nadarkhanis-birthday-72991/                         Article by Katherine Weber

4 April 2012 - Youcef celebrates the birthday of his son

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reported Monday that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, although imprisoned in Iran, was able to see his son on the young boy's birthday.

Nadarkhani's son was able to visit his father in prison on April 2. This comes as a special treat for Nadarkhani as well, who will celebrate his 35th birthday after being imprisoned for for two and a half years.

"Not only does this mean that Pastor Youcef is still alive, but it is a precious reminder of what we are fighting for – freedom for a loving father, a devoted husband, a caring pastor, and a devout follower of Christ," commented the ACLJ in a press release.

Nadarkhani was arrested by Iranian authorities in Oct. 2009 for protesting the government's mandatory teaching of Islam in his children's schools. His charges were later changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims, and he has remained imprisoned while Iranian courts debate on his final punishment.

The international community has been intently following Nadarkhani's case, especially after the courts declared that Nadarkhani would be executed for his apostasy charge. The Iranian government has since backtracked on this ruling, arguing that Nadarkhani will not be executed.

Rumors became especially heated after Feb. 21, when the ACLJ announced that an execution order had in fact been issued. Fake pictures depicting Nadarkhani being hanged circulated on the Internet. Although these pictures are not real, the ACLJ does still believe that an execution order exists, but has yet to be carried out.

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Christian Post: http://global.christianpost.com/news/pastor-youcef-nadarkhani-celebrates-birthday-with-son-72520/

29 March 2012 - Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is still alive

Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is still alive and recent reports of his execution are false, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which was able to confirm on March 26 that the imprisoned evangelical minister's death sentence for apostasy has not been carried out. 

Many followers of Nadarkhani's case grew alarmed after a purported image of the pastor was in wide circulation on the Internet. The image shows the Iranian pastor blindfolded, standing on gallows next to a noose while two armed guards stand behind him.

This image fueled rumors that Nadarkhani had in fact been executed. Iran has a history of executing prisoners without warning, sometimes leaving the body of the executed at the family's doorstep, according to the ACLJ. 

The ACLJ has confirmed that the image, which has reportedly been in circulation since July 2011, is a fake and the execution rumors are false. The organization stipulates that the false execution reports and images may be a part of a misinformation campaign initiated by the Iranian regime.

Regardless of the misinformation's source, the ACLJ confirms that the rumors could have a potentially negative effect on Nadarkhani's release.

The ACLJ announced on Feb. 21 that a death order had been issued for the Iranian pastor, who has been imprisoned since Oct. 2009. Nadarkhani was initially arrested for protesting the mandatory teaching of Islam in his children's school, but his charges were later changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims.

 

29 March 2012 - False Rumours

Recently the Huffington Post wrote an article stating that Iranian authorities claim that Youcef Nadarkhani will not be executed. While this appears to be great news, we cannot trust it. We have documented many instances that Iranian media and government authorities have lied about this case to the public. They have recently acknowledged that he is charged with Christian activities but continue to deny that he has been convicted of apostasy. We have copies of his written verdict that can easily be found online stating that his only charge is apostasy. In addition, his attorney, Mr. Mohammed Dadkhah, has clearly stated that the only charges levied against his client are apostasy. Iran wants Youcef’s case to disappear from the news so that they can do as they wish with him, but we will not forget and we will keep praying and working until he is released.

Also, there have been rumors circulating once again that Youcef was executed. These rumors are completely false. We are thankful to be able to confirm that as of today, March 16, Youcef is alive. Keep praying and spreading the word to everyone you know; ask your friends and your pastors to do the same.

In Christ,

Jason DeMars

Present Truth Ministries 

14 March 2012 - Iran Admits Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani Convicted of Religious Charges

For the first time since his arrest in 2009, Iranian authorities have admitted publicly that their case against Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani involves his Christian faith, the International Business Times reports.

During a United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva on Monday, Iran said Nadarkhani -- who has been sentenced to death -- was found guilty of building a church in his home without government permission, preaching to minors without parental consent and offending Islam. Iran had previously claimed -- as international pressure grew for Nadarkhani's release -- that he was charged with "security-related crimes," including rape and spying, but leaked court documents signed by the Iranian Supreme Court indicate Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy and that he had refused to convert to Islam when repeatedly given the option by the court.

Although apostasy isn't a crime under Iran's legal code, "insults" to "Islamic sanctities" are a crime under its religious codes. The latest update from Iranian sources confirmed Nadarkhani was still alive as of March 3, but Iran has a history of holding secret executions.

Crosswalk.com:  http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/religion-today-blog/iran-admits-pastor-nadarkhani-only-apostasy-charge.html

                                        Make Youcef VISIBLE

Persecution is real - yet it remains invisible to the church.

Help us make it VISIBLE to the world.

Show your support in making Youcef Nadarkhani VISIBLE.

Click on the picture and make him VISIBLE 

                                     Video Update on Pastor Youcef

Jay Sekulow provided an update on Fox News with Megyn Kelly shedding light on Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.

Click here to view video

               04 March 2012 - False report on execution of Youcef

(ACLJ) 04 March 2012 - As of Saturday afternoon, March 3, 2012, the ACLJ’s sources in Iran have confirmed that Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is still alive.

Reports that his execution occurred earlier today are false, and images being circulated purporting to be from his execution are outdated and demonstratively false.

The ACLJ still believes that the execution order has been issued, but we can confirm that as of today Pastor Youcef is still alive. International pressure continues to build on Iran.

29 February 2012 - Execution temporarily delayed

An Israeli press report is stating that Iran has put off the execution of brother Youcef. We are working to confirm this information. It states that Youcef was set to be executed today and that they have delayed it. But they have not said how long it has been delayed. Please continue to pray, tweet and contact your government officials.

 If this is a fact then Iran has done two things; 1. They have acknowledged that he is under the death sentence for apostasy. 2. They have acknowledge that an execution order was signed.

 But it only states that the execution was delayed not cancelled. We need to continue to earnestly pray. They did not announce that the execution was to take place today so they may execute him any other day since they state it was merely delayed. Please pray and pass the word to others to do the same.

 So that you are aware of the grace of God, we can tell you that Youcef and his family are both doing well. They are remaining faithful to Christ and standing strong in Him. 

In Christ,

Jason DeMars
Present Truth Ministries

 23 Feb 2012 - Youcef still alive amid reports on execution orders.

(ACLJ) 23 February 2012  - The American Center for Law and Justice told The Christian Post that, according to their sources in Iran, Youcef Nadarkhani is indeed alive. The statement was emailed Wednesday amid reports that an execution order may have been issued for the evangelical Christian pastor.

 "Our efforts to secure his release are intensifying - in Congress to seek support of the resolution and at the U.N. to bring this case to the attention of member nations," Gene Kapp, the ACLJ's media representative, told The Christian Post Wednesday morning.

Both the ACLJ and Present Truth Ministries (PTM), which has also been closely monitoring Nadarkhani's case, revealed this week that it was believed that the Iranian courts may have signed an execution order for Nadarkhani. However, PTM issued a press release Wednesday saying it had learned that an execution order had in fact been signed by the Iranian courts.

 "The order has not been delivered to Youcef's family and we do not know if they will allow another appeal. We also do not know if it has been approved by the Ayatollah who is the head of the Judiciary Sadegh Larijani," Present Truth Ministries stated in the press release.

 Nadarkhani was originally arrested in Oct. 2009 for protesting the teaching of Islam at his children's school. His charges were later changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims. His sentence for apostasy was execution, but after much international pressure the Iranian court system delayed the verdict, passing the case to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the nation's supreme authority, for review.

"The news out of Iran is not encouraging. With Iran now dominating international headlines because of its military actions, it's clear Iran may have decided to move forward by issuing an execution order, knowing that the world's attention is focused elsewhere right now," Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ, announced in a press release Tuesday.

According to the ACLJ, it was unclear whether Nadarkhani will be able to appeal his execution order. Most of Iran's executions are conducted in secret.

 "We also know that Iran's top officials can reject the execution order and release Pastor Youcef if they so desire. We will keep the international pressure on Iran to free Pastor Youcef," Sekulow said.

 Nadarkhani has refused to renounce his Christian faith, even though he was repeatedly pressured to recant.

 Just last week, United States Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-Pa.) introduced a resolution to Congress condemning Iran for imprisoning Nadarkhani and demanding his immediate release. More than 35,000 Americans signed the ACLJ petition urging members of Congress to support the resolution, entitled H. Res. 556.

 Many argue that previous international attention has helped to keep Nadarkhani's case in the spotlight, thus keeping him alive. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, 89 members of Congress, the Europe Union, France, Great Britain, Mexico, and Germany have all publicly supported Nadarkhani, requesting that Iran immediately release him.

As Sekulow noted on the ACLJ website, Nadarkhani's execution "could be the catalyst for the extinction of Christianity in Iran."

 Nadarkhani's wife, Fatema Pasindedih, and their two young sons, Daniel, 9, and Yoel, 7, await further news on their father's fate. 

            22 Feb 2012-Execution orders issued

(ACLJ) 22 February 2012 -The American Center for Law and Justice, focusing on constitutional and international law, said today it has received information that Iran may have issued an execution order for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who was sentenced to death because he refused to recant his Christian faith. The ACLJ is working to determine whether Pastor Youcef is still alive.

"As of today, we cannot confirm that Pastor Youcef is alive," said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ. "The news out of Iran is not encouraging. With Iran now dominating international headlines because of its military actions, it's clear Iran may have decided to move forward by issuing an execution order, knowing that the world's attention is focused elsewhere right now. We also know that Iran's top officials can reject the execution order and release Pastor Youcef if they so desire. We will keep the international pressure on Iran to free Pastor Youcef."

It is still unclear at the present time whether Pastor Youcef would have a right of appeal from the execution order. The head of Iran's Judiciary Chief, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, must approve publicly held executions, but only a small percentage of executions are carried out in public. Most executions in Iran are conducted in secret.

This disturbing news comes as more than 35,000 Americans have signed on to an ACLJ petition urging members of Congress to support a resolution condemning Iran for its actions and calling for the immediate release of the Christian pastor.

The ACLJ continues to reach out through its global social media campaign to generate support for Pastor Youcef. A Twitter campaign involves nearly 1,600 individuals who are sending one Tweet a day on behalf of Pastor Nadarkhani. That campaign is now reaching more than 345,000 Twitter accounts in nearly 180 countries and territories. The goal is to reach one million people a day on behalf of Pastor Nadarkhani.

Led by Chief Counsel Jay Sekulow, the ACLJ focuses on constitutional law in the United States and works to protect the religious and human rights in the international arena through its work with global affiliates. The ACLJ is based in Washington, D.C. and is online at www.aclj.org .

21 February 2012 - Youcef's life in imminent danger (ACLJ)

(ACLJ) 21 February 2012 -We have just received word from our contacts on the ground in Iran of an extremely dangerous turn of events for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. There is an increased likelihood that the Iranian regime will execute Pastor Youcef for his faith.

Pastor Youcef’s case had been stalled due to increased international pressure and the Iranian court’s request that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, decide Pastor Youcef’s fate. Now, because Pastor Youcef has continually refused to give into the regime’s demands that herenounce his Christian faith, the likelihood that the Iranian regime will execute him increases by the day.

The situation has not been this dire since we first brought you his story.

Iran has demonstrated its resolve to ignore its international obligations, whether by its continued attempt to gain nuclear power or its continued disregard for human rights.

It is more critical than ever to increase the pressure on the Iranian regime to overturn Pastor Youcef’s death sentence and release him immediately. If Iran executes Pastor Youcef, it could be the catalyst for the extinction of Christianity in Iran.

The ACLJ is continuing to work with Pastor Youcef’s attorney in Iran, the State Department, and Members of Congress in an effort to save Pastor Youcef’s life.

The congressional resolution introduced by Representative Joe Pitts (PA-16) late last week – condemning Iran and calling for Pastor Youcef’s immediate release – is gaining bipartisan support, including the original co-sponsorship of Representatives John Carter (TX-31), Keith Ellison (MN-5), Trent Franks (AZ-2), James McGovern (MA-3), Heath Shuler (NC-11), and Frank Wolf (VA-10).

Please continue to share Pastor Youcef’s story and pray, as we continue fighting for his life.
 

16 February 2012 - Update from Jason deMars

As we reported previously, the Iranian Chief Justice, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, has ordered the local judiciary in Lakan province to not deliver a verdict until the end of 2012. You may recall from previous posts that he remains under the death sentence and is awaiting the verdict of his retrial. Ultimately, the Iranian government would like Christians and the international community to forget about Youcef so that they can secretly execute him. We cannot let that happen.

A few people have asked, what can I do to help Youcef? There are several things you can do and here is a list…

  1. You can pray for his faith to stay strong and for God to move in his life every day.
  2. You can share this and other posts on Facebook, keeping your friends and family up to date on Youcef.
  3. You can sign the petition on the right side of this page

First and foremost this is a spiritual battle against the devil. He is doing everything he can to stop the work of God and the Gospel going deeper into a land of darkness. Youcef, his family and the church in Iran need your prayers. Don’t forget our brother.


In Christ,

Jason DeMars
Present Truth Ministries

8 January 2012 - Iran Human Rights Declaration a 'Mistake,' Says Judiciary Chief

At a recent Human Rights conference, Iran's Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, who played a significant role in the case of Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, has claimed that Iran made a mistake by signing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

A Feb. 3 American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ)report  references British news source BBC, which says Larijani "criticized the Universal Declaration of Human Rights" at the Human Rights Forum and the Position of Iran and Islam conference on Thursday, Feb. 2.

Larijani defended Iran's debatable human rights record at the conference. The Middle Eastern country signed the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, vowing to observe an individual's universal dignity without distinction of any kind, including religion.

Critics contend that Iran has loosely interpreted the constitution, allowing Islamic Shariah law to rule their judicial system.

Ayatollah Larijani has played a significant role in the case of imprisoned pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has remained in Iranian prison for apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims since Oct. 2009.

Nadarkhani's case had jumped from the local court of the Gilan province to Iran's Supreme Court. The case was eventually put in the hands of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for review.

Although Khamenei was supposed to announce Nadarkhani's verdict by the end of 2011, a statement released by Present Truth Ministries in mid-December announced that Iran's court was postponing Nadarkhani's verdict for four months – even possibly up to a year, according to some reports.

It was Ayatollah Larijani who requested that presiding judge Ghazi Kashani delay the case.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Europe Union, 89 members of Congress, France, Great Britain, Mexico, and Germany's parliament have all condemned Iran's imprisonment of Nadarkhani, arguing that the country is in direct violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Larijani's Feb. 2 comments prove that Iran has not heeded the international community's call to obey the Declaration.

According to the ACLJ, Larijani defended the Iranian court's right to impose Islamic Shariah law in judicial proceedings, ignoring the UDHR.

Nadarkhani remains in Iranian prison as he awaits his verdict. Although he potentially faces execution for apostasy unless he recants his Christian faith, Nadarkhani has repeatedly held true to his belief in Jesus. 

The Christian Post, Article by Katherine Weber , Christian Post Reporter 

25 January 2012 - Pastor Nadarkhani Rejects 'Recant for Freedom' Deal

The latest news from Iran is that Iranian officials are continuing to pressure detained Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani to deny his Christian faith "and accept the prophet Muhammad as his savior."

 The American Center for Law and Justice, which is working closely with Nadarkhani's case, confirmed Tuesday that the pastor was recently asked again to recant his faith.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide, Nadarkhani was given the option to be freed from prison if he accepted Muhammad as "a messenger sent by God."

 "Local authorities indicated they would release the pastor if he agreed to make the statement regarding the prophet Mohammed. However, Pastor Nadarkhani has refused to do so, and remains in prison awaiting a final decision on his case," the group said in a statement dated Jan. 13.

 These demands have been put on Nadarkhani at least three times before by Iranian officials.

When asked to renounce his faith at his latest trial last September, Nadarkhani responded, "I cannot," and has continued to refuse.

"Rather than uphold its legal obligations under the rule of law, which requires it free Pastor Youcef and allow him to peacefully practice Christianity, Iran yet again obliterates any credibility it might have held with the international community," ACLJ International Legal Director Tiffany Barrans said.

The Iranian court that heard Nadarkhani's case promised a decision on the pastor's release more than a month ago.

So far, a ruling has yet to be made.

CSW continues to call for urgent prayer and action on behalf of Pastor Nadarkhani.  CSW report that over 50,000 people have emailed the Iranian embassies around the world .

15 January 2012 -  Pastor Nadarkhani Rejects 'Unconstitutional' Terms of Release

By Michael Ireland - Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

RASHT, IRAN (ANS) -- Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani recently refused an offer to secure his own release by agreeing to state that the Muslim prophet Mohammed was a messenger sent by God.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) says lawyers for Pastor Nadarkhani were unexpectedly summoned to his home city of Rasht on December 30, 2011.

In a media update, CSW says: "During ensuing discussions, local authorities indicated they would release the pastor if he agreed to make the statement regarding the Prophet Mohammed. However, Pastor Nadarkhani has refused to do so, and remains in prison awaiting a final decision on his case."

Pastor Nadarkhani of the Church of Iran denomination was initially arrested in Rasht in 2009.

In September 2010 he was tried and found guilty of apostasy, and sentenced to death. After further legal wrangling in 2011 during which the pastor thrice refused to recant his faith to save his own life, his case was eventually referred to Iran's Supreme Leader, as international pressure mounted on his behalf.

Towards the end of 2011, CSW received unconfirmed reports indicating that the case may have been passed on to the head of the Iranian judiciary, and that execution may have been delayed for up to a year to allow time to convince the pastor to renounce his faith.

CSW explains the terms of the recent offer from the Rasht officials have been described by local sources as "amounting to an indirect recantation of faith."

CSW sources also point out that the request violates article 23 of the Iranian Constitution, which states that no-one should be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief.

Jason DeMars of http://www.presenttruthmn.com/ , says: "The Iranian regime is continuing to use pressure tactics to get Youcef to convert to Islam. This is their ultimate goal in this process.

"We ask that everyone continues to pray and to reach out to Iranian officials requesting that a verdict be issued and that Youcef be released quickly.

"According to Iranian law a verdict needs to be issued within one week of the completion of the trial. It has now been three months and even one month past what was promised in mid December."

Pastor Nadarkhani's case was recently highlighted by British parliamentarians on January 11, during a 90-minute debate on human rights in Iran.

CSW's Chief Executive, Mervyn Thomas, said: "Just as the initial conviction of Pastor Nadarkhani is illegal under Iranian law, the recent offer made by the authorities in Rasht is a violation of the Iranian constitution, and of international covenants to which Iran is a signatory that guarantee freedom of religion and freedom to change one's religion.

"CSW continues to call for the unconditional release of Pastor Nadarkhani, and of all those imprisoned in Iran purely on account of their faith. It is vital that the international community maintains pressure on the Iranian regime until the human rights situation positively and irrevocably improves for the better."

British MPs Highlight Nadarkhani Case and Iran's "Appalling" Religious Freedom Violations

Meanwhile, in a 90-minute debate on human rights in Iran, the UK's Members of Parliament yesterday highlighted the worrying situation of Pastor Nadarkhani and discussed the Iranian regime's systematic denial of the Iranian people's right to freedom of religion or belief.

CSW said the severe persecution faced by Christians, Baha'is, Jews and other religious minorities in Iran was highlighted as a key area of concern by various MPs, within the wider discussion on the extensive and broad-ranging human rights violations committed by the Iranian government.

Stewart Jackson MP drew heavily on Christian Solidarity Worldwide's (CSW) research to describe the problems faced by Christians, including the worrying uncertainty surrounding the Nadarkhani case, and the plight of other detainees such as Farshid Fathi and Pastor Benham Irani.

Jackson said: "Torture is used to pressure individuals to make confessions and to provide information on others. As I mentioned, exorbitant bail postings secure the release of individuals, along with illegal documents that religious detainees are forced to sign. Such documents demand an end to participation in Christian activities, the renunciation of faith, and compliance with further questioning when summoned. Laptops and mobile phones are often confiscated during raids on private Christian homes and are used to obtain information on the activities and identities of other Christians."

Louise Ellman MP, who tabled the debate, began the proceedings by raising the plight of the severely-targeted Baha'i religious minority.

She said: "The repression takes a number of forms in an ongoing and systematic persecution. It means arbitrary arrest and imprisonment and the denial of access to higher education and areas of employment. The homes and businesses of Baha'is have been subject to arson attacks, cemeteries have been destroyed, and children have been harassed."

According to the CSW report, MPs pressed the British Government to make representations to Iran on the issue of the Islamic Penal Bill, which is due to be passed by the Iranian parliament later this year and which may still include a clause stipulating the death penalty for male apostates, despite Iranian claims to the contrary.

Replying to the debate, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Alistair Burt MP said: "We will press at the [UN Human Rights] Council in March, as we do at every Council, for Iran to deal with the record against it that colleagues have spoken about. There is no doubt that the issues raised here will continue to be raised by colleagues, but they may rest assured that their concerns are echoed by the Government. We will continue to stand up for the rights of those who are oppressed in Iran."

CSW was commended for its work by a number of Parliamentarians, and a reference was made to CSW's engagement with a debate on human rights in North Korea, which also took place yesterday prior to the Iran debate.

After the debate, CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, "CSW welcomes the remarks made by Members of Parliament and the response of the government during yesterday's debate on the human rights situation in Iran, and is encouraged by the robust coverage of the widespread abuses of freedom of religion or belief in that nation.

"Given the appalling violations that religious minorities face in Iran, it is of utmost importance that the international community both stands and acts in solidarity with them, something that was well articulated in yesterday's debate.

"CSW is committed to continuing to raise religious freedom issues in Iran with key policy shapers and decision makers until the human rights situation there is positively and irrevocably changed."

11 January 2012 - Update from Jason de Mars - Present truth Ministries

Youcef Asked To Acknowledge Mohammed As A Prophet Sent By God

Once again the Iranian regime is putting pressure on pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. They have stated that if he simply agrees that Mohammed was a prophet sent by God he will be given his freedom. Youcef refused to agree with that statement and remains in prison. We ask that you continue to remember him and his family in prayer. As we reported previously the regime has asked the local Rasht judiciary not to issue a verdict for now. With God all things are possible. We continue to pray and believe for his soon release.

Keep in mind that brother Youcef has not had a Bible the entire 2 years and about three months that he has been in prison. He has no access to a computer or the outside world other than meeting with his wife and family. The Holy Spirit is sustaining him in his faith and endurance. He is healthy in mind and body and his faith is as strong as ever.

In Christ,

Jason DeMars
Present Truth Ministries 

2 January 2012 - Update from Jason de Mars

Pastors Experience Increased Pressure

Please continue to pray for pastors Youcef Nadarkhani, Behnam Irani, and Petros Furouton. Each of them are in prison. Behnam is to serve until 2016, Petros until the fall of 2012, and there is still no resolution in Youcef’s apostasy case.

Several other pastors are in the process of fleeing the country as they are being called in to serve prison time. Along with having to leave their churches and extended family behind, they are in the slow and painful process of financial ruin while living in poverty.

We do not lose hope "as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18) Our ultimate hope is not safety from things seen in this life, but from those things that are not seen, eternal life in heaven and ultimately the new earth.

Yet, there are many large needs amongst the refugees who have fled so as to not to face prison. I ask that you pray for these needs and if God leads you to help in any way, we’d be happy to discuss the needs with you directly.

In Christ,

Jason DeMars
Present Truth Ministries 

26 December 2011 - Persecution Watchdog Highlights Iranian Pastors Imprisoned Over Christmas

By Michael Ireland - Senior International Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

NEW MALDEN, SURREY, UK (ANS) -- As Christmas approaches, the British religious human rights watchdog Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) http://www.csw.org.uk/ remains concerned about the plight of three pastors who are imprisoned in Iran.

In a media update, CSW says Farshid Fathi-Malayeri, an evangelical church leader and father of two young children, has been detained without charge since December 26, 2010, but has yet to appear in court.

CSW stated: "He has been kept in solitary confinement for a large part of his incarceration. The equivalent of £120,000GBP was demanded as bail for his release. His family eventually managed to raise the bail, yet the authorities refused to release him."

CSW also reports Pastor Behnam Irani is currently serving a five-year sentence in Ghezel Hesar prison in Karaj for "action against national security."

"The verdict against him includes text that describes Pastor Irani as an apostate and reiterates that apostates 'can be killed,'" CSW said.

According to CSW sources, Pastor Irani is currently sharing a cell with criminals who regularly beat him, and as a result of injuries sustained during these assaults, he is now having difficulty walking.

CSW was also informed that during the first few months of his imprisonment, the pastor was held incommunicado in a small cell, where guards would repeatedly wake him from sleep as a form of psychological torture. He was moved into a cramped room where inmates could not lie down to sleep, before being transferred to his current cell.

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani continues to face a death sentence for apostasy, CSW said.

"The Supreme Leader of Iran has yet to issue a decision in his case despite two referrals from the lower court. CSW has received unconfirmed reports indicating that execution may be delayed for up to a year to allow time to convince the pastor to renounce his faith," the group said.

Elam Ministries has reported the acquittal and release of Shahla Rahmati from Evin Prison, CSW reported.

"The Christian and the director of a successful electronics company was freed on December 20, after 287 days of incarceration. Following her arrest on March 9, 2011, she spent three months in Section 209 of Tehran's Evin Prison, where she was interrogated and held in solitary confinement for six weeks. Shahla Rahmati was later moved to an overcrowded cell which she shared with around 80 hardened criminals and drug addicts. Her health deteriorated, and she is currently seeking medical treatment," the group stated.

CSW's Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, "These men are representative of many other Iranian Christians held on spurious charges or without any charges in prisons throughout the country.

"CSW is deeply concerned for their wellbeing and at reports that vulnerable prisoners are being forced to share overcrowded cells with dangerous criminals."

"We call on the Iranian government to ensure that the pastors and other prisoners receive the necessary medical attention and are treated in accordance with the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, as defined by the UN," he said.

"The continuing harassment and imprisonment of Christians, Baha'is and other minorities is unacceptable and contravenes international covenants to which Iran is signatory, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees freedom of religion.

"We urge the international community to c ontinue to press Iran for the release of Pastor Nadarkhani and others who are unjustly imprisoned or facing execution due to flawed judicial processes."

22 December 2011 - Decision Stalled on Iranian Pastor Sentenced to Death

Convicted of leaving Islam, Christian may have to wait one year for ruling.  By Damaris Kremida

 ISTANBUL, December 21 (Compass Direct News) – A pastor in Iran sentenced to death for refusing to recant his faith may have to wait another year for a ruling on whether the sentence will be upheld, according to sources.

 Yousef (also spelled Youcef) Nadarkhani, sentenced to death after a court of appeals in Rasht, Iran, found him guilty of leaving Islam in September 2010, has been in prison since October 2009, yet his lawyers said they were told to not expect any movement on his case for another year. 

 “The news we have about Yousef is not official, but that’s what the lawyers are saying,” a member of the Church of Iran who requested anonymity told Compass. “The lawyers speak to the judges’ secretaries and hear things. Rasht is not a big city, so it is easy to know what is happening.”

 The head of Iran’s Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, has reportedly ordered the presiding judge over the trial in Rasht to do nothing for one year.

The court in Rasht, 243 kilometers (151 miles) northwest of Tehran, was expected to pronounce a verdict on Nadarkhani’s appeal in October, and sources said the court’s long silence bodes ill. Instead of pronouncing a verdict, the court sent the Christian’s case to the nation’s Islamic authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, to make a ruling.

Authorities have also continued to pressure Nadarkhani to recant his faith while in prison. In September they gave him Islamic literature aimed at discrediting the Bible, according to sources, and instructed him to read it. The court reportedly has been told to use whatever means necessary to compel Nadarkhani to recant his faith.

The anonymous Christian who spoke to Compass said he didn’t believe that Nadarkhani would be executed soon, but he said authorities were tense about his case, indicating that nothing was certain.

Some Iranian Christians have said that, in the face of international outrage over the case, the government would announce a verdict near the Christmas holidays so that it would receive less notice.

Many Christians in Iran believe Church of Iran doctrine is less than Trinitarian, although the statement of faith on the church’s website (http://www.eglisediran.org/?page_id=8) indicates belief in a triune God-head of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Christian leaders in Iran have called for prayer for their leaders and congregations over the Christmas and New Year period, as there are fears that pressures on churches may intensify in the coming days, according to advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC).

“These fears stem partly from the waves of arrests last Christmas and New Year, and also the previous year, in which several dozen believers were detained,” MEC reported in a press statement. “Two of those arrested in late December 2010, Farshid and Noorallah, remain in prison.

Farshid Fathi, 32, has been in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran since Dec. 26, 2010. He is married and has two young children. Noorollah Qabitizade, a Christian convert and a house church leader held in Ahwaz in southwestern Iran, has been in prison since Christmas Eve of last year. 

Between December of last year and February, authorities arrested scores of Christians. All have been released, except for Qabitizade and Fathi.

Authorities arrested Nadarkhani in his home city of Rasht in Oct. 2009 on charges that he questioned obligatory religion classes in Iranian schools. After finding him guilty of apostasy, the court of appeals in Rasht in November 2010 issued a written confirmation of his charges and death sentence.

At an appeal hearing in June, the Supreme Court of Iran upheld Nadarkhani’s sentence but asked the court in Rasht to determine if he was a practicing Muslim before his conversion. The court declared that Nadarkhani was not a practicing Muslim before his conversion, but that he was still guilty of apostasy due to his Muslim ancestry.

The Supreme Court had also determined that his death sentence could be annulled if he recanted his faith. The Rasht court gave Nadarkhani three chances to recant Christianity in accordance with sharia (Islamic law), but Nadarkhani refused to do so. His final appeal hearings ended on Sept. 28, and the court was expected to make its final decision two weeks from the final hearing.

Nadarkhani’s lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, also faces charges for “actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime,” due to his human rights activities.

In addition, this month Iranian authorities sentenced Alireza Seyedian to six years imprisonment for being baptized in Turkey and uploading a video of his baptism to the Internet, according to Mohabat News. Seyedian is another member of the Church of Iran, and Dadkhah is also representing him.

As Christians in Iran are held hostage to the government’s political whims, some Iranian Christians say the key to their freedom is continued pressure from the international community.

http://www.compassdirect.org/

                                               URGENT UPDATE                                    16 December 2011 -Iran wants the West to forget Youcef Nadarkhani 

(presenttruth) 16 December 2011 - The Iranian judiciary has issued a perplexing decision in the case of Youcef Nadrkhani. They decided to keep him in prison for one more year in order to use whatever means necessary to cause him to convert to Islam. After one year we do not know what they will do. It is clear that they want Youcef’s case to slip away from international attention.

Youcef’s local attorney in Rasht was informed that the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Larijani, has ordered the presiding judge over the trial in Rasht, Mr. Ghazi Kashani to do nothing for one year. The order was to not issue a verdict and hold Youcef in prison. They were told to use whatever means necessary to cause him to recant and return to Islam.

Please remember, he is still under the death sentence from a 2010 ruling by the court in Rasht. This ruling was upheld by the Supreme Court in Qom in June 2011 asking the local court to re-examine whether Youcef practiced Islam after the age of majority (15 in Iran) and the time of his conversion to Christianity at the age of 19.

We ask that you would pray for this situation. Ask the Heavenly Father to work his perfect will for Youcef, provide for his family and working salvation in the lives of many in Iran.

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(PresentTruth) Youcef to remain in prison and coerced to recant

http://presenttruthmn.com/blog/iran/youcef-remain-prison-coerced-recant/ 

16 December 2011 - Use this Christmas to intercede for Youcef

Youcef Nadarkhani, sentenced to death a year ago after a court of appeals in Rasht, Iran, found him guilty of leaving Islam in September 2010, is in deteriorating health, according to a member of Nadarkhani's denomination, the Church of Iran, who requested anonymity.

The church member said that communication with Nadarkhani is limited, but that sources close to the imprisoned Christian indicated that he has undergone physical and psychological torture.

"Certainly he was hit, but his [telephone] conversations are heard [by authorities]," the source said.

"We know that he has been in extreme situations, and we consider that torture. When you have spent time in a solitary cell unable to talk to others for a long time, or you are told you will be killed, this is also torture."

Compass says authorities have also continued to pressure Nadarkhani to recant his faith while in prison. The court in Rasht was expected to pronounce a verdict on Nadarkhani's appeal last month, but instead sent the Christian's case to the nation's Islamic authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, to make a ruling.

Some sources indicate a ruling could come the second half of December.

Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries told ANS: "This is accurate in regards to the past. We have never received direct word from Youcef about being tortured or beaten, though visitors have seen evidence of this at one point. And of course in the past he was in solitary confinement and as has been stated elsewhere long periods of this can cause mental trauma, although we have not seen any evidence in Youcef of being in a bad mental state."

DeMars added: "He has been strong mentally and strong in faith. And of course he has been told multiple times over the course of his incarceration that he would be executed if he does not recant."

-------------------------------

Source: Christian Today

13 December 2012 - Youcef's verdict delayed again

By  Jason DeMars - Present Truth Ministries

We have received word that the Iranian judiciary is again delaying the verdict from the apostasy trial of Youcef Nadarkhani. They are doing this in order to continue the uncertainty for him and to apply additional pressure to get him to return to Islam. Secondly, they want the international community and especially Christians to forget about him. They have done this by seeking to divide Christians as well as delay the verdict. Once we forget about him then they are free to execute him. Please help us ensure that Youcef is not forgotten. 

The Iranian judiciary, once again, shows no respect for their own laws. They are obliged to provide a written verdict within 10 days of the completion of the trial. It has now been two and a half months.

Please, do not forget Youcef in your prayers. Prayer is the most powerful weapon we possess. The advocacy and efforts everyone puts forth for Youcef are much needed, but prayer is more important.  Remember his family in prayer as well, Tina and their two sons, Daniel and Yoel have now been without him for over two years. Share these updates and the full story of Youcef on Facebook and Twitter. Ask fellow believers to do the same. Send word of this on to your Congressmen, MP’s and various government officials that you are in contact with. Also, I ask that everyone send an email on to the Iranian Embassy or Representative in your country. You can do so by going here. Respectfully request that they pass word on to the Iran’s Foreign Minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, that the judiciary provide a written verdict on the case of Youcef Nadarkhani. 

11 December 2011 - Clinton Calls on Iran to Release Pastor Youcef

After nearly 200,000 Americans petitioned the U.S. government to intervene on behalf of an Iranian pastor facing death for his faith, State Secretary Hillary Clinton has finally called for his release.

"Today, we call on every government to release all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally, including Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani," Clinton said Saturday

Nadarkhani, 34, was sentenced to die in 2009 for leaving the Islamic faith despite his claims that he was never a Muslim.

The American Center for Law and Justice, who launched the petition to save the pastor's life, was pleased by this latest development.

"We appreciate Secretary of State Clinton's strong statement in support of Pastor Youcef," Jordon Sekulow, chief counsel for the ACLJ, said in a statement Saturday.

"We will continue working with the State Department in fighting for Pastor Youcef's release, as we expect a decision from Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei later this month," he pledged.

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Source:  CBN News  http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2011/December/Clinton-Calls-on-Iran-to-Release-Pastor-Youcef-/

 

Update 01 December 2011

(ACLJ) 01 December 2011 - The situation of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani – who remains on death row in Iran for his faith – is gaining increased international attention.

The Mexican Senate is the latest international body to take a stand for Pastor Youcef, stating that it “condemns the death sentence handed down to Yousef Nadarkhani for religious reasons.”

In recent weeks and months, a number of nations and international bodies have joined American leaders in calling for Pastor Youcef’s release. Britain was one of the first nations to speak out against the ongoing atrocity being committed against Pastor Youcef, its Foreign Secretary calling “on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence.”

Canada and members of the Uruguayan Senate have also made statements calling for Pastor Youcef’s release. In addition, the Foreign Affairs Council and the Council for the European Union have released statements condemning Pastor Youcef’s conviction and execution sentence. TheEuropean Parliament also passed a resolution calling for Pastor Youcef’s release.

We appreciate the willingness of the international community, including theUnited Nations Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in Iran, to bring attention to Pastor Youcef’s plight, and we urge international Muslim leaders (none of whom have spoken out) to call for Pastor Youcef’s unconditional release.

Yet, as these and other nations and international organizations increase the pressure on Iran to release Pastor Youcef, Iran is renewing its efforts to persecute Christians.

The Minster of Intelligence of Iran recently called house churches a threat to youth in Iran and stated the regime was preparing to crack down on these churches. A similar crackdown occurred right around Christmas last year, and it appears that Iran is preparing more raids again this year.

This news is not only disturbing for Pastor Youcef, the pastor of a Christian house church who awaits final determination on his fate by Iran’s Supreme Leader, but for hundreds of other Christian converts in Iran.

 

We will continue to monitor this situation, work with the U.S. State Department, and directly assist Pastor Youcef’s attorney in Iran. Please continue to pray for Pastor Youcef and continue to share his stand for his faith and fight for freedom with others.

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(ACLJ) International Support for Pastor Youcef Grows as Iran Threatens Churches

http://aclj.org/iran/international-support-pastor-youcef-grows-iran-threatens-churches

Article by Matthew Clark 

Concern over Nadarkhani's health (CDN)

(CDN) 17 Nov 2011 - The mistreatment of a pastor in Iran awaiting a decision on his death sentence for refusing to recant his faith amounts to physical and psychological torture, a source close to the pastor’s family said.

Yousef (also spelled Youcef) Nadarkhani, sentenced to death a year ago after a court of appeals in Rasht, Iran, found him guilty of leaving Islam in September 2010, is in deteriorating health, according to a member of Nadarkhani’s denomination, the Church of Iran, who requested anonymity. 
 He said that communication with Nadarkhani is limited, but that sources close to the imprisoned Christian indicated that he has undergone physical and psychological torture. 
 
“Certainly he was hit, but his [telephone] conversations are heard [by authorities],” the source said. “We know that he has been in extreme situations, and we consider that torture. When you have spent time in a solitary cell unable to talk to others for a long time, or you are told you will be killed, this is also torture.”

14 November 2011 - Supreme leader to give ruling mid December

lReports are surfacing from the American center for Law and Justice that the Iranian Supreme leader could make a ruling on the case of Youcef Nadarkhani by mid December 2011.

If the Supreme leader does not make a ruling, the case will most likely go back to the courts, who will uphold the death sentence. Youcef will he hanged shortly after.

Please continue to pray for Brother Youcef and his family and for the Christian community in Iran.  

9 November 2011 - Court To Issue Decision In One Month If the Ayatollah Does Not Respond

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani remains in Lakan Prison in Iran’s Gilan Province. He continues to stand strong in his faith and remains in good spirits and health.

The 11th circuit court in Gilan is awaiting a response to their two letters that were written to the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khameini. One of Youcef’s attorneys stated that the court will wait for one month for a response. If they do not have it, they will issue a ruling sometime in mid-December.

Continue to pray for brother Youcef, that God would sustain him and give him courage and boldness to testify to those around him.  Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:18-20

You can also write a letter to him in prison at Prisoner Alert. Please follow their instructions closely. We will continue to keep you up to date. 

In Christ,

Jason DeMars
Present Truth Ministries

08 November 2011 - Australian MP takes action

It can make a difference - After a local Australian Pastor, David Ould, wrote a letter to MP's in his area, pleading the case of Youcef Nadarkhani, a surprise reaction was that the MP's responded to his letter and brought the case of Youcef before the Australian government.

Read Pastor David's letter to the MP and their reply at  http://www.davidould.net/index.php?/blog/comments/nadarkhani_the_australian_govt_gets_involved

Lets see if we can get the same response from our governments by writing letter to local MP's in your area.

04 November 2011 - Interview with Youcef's attorney (MohabatNews)

 

(MohabatNews) 04 Nov 2011 - It's now about two years since Yousef Nadarkhani, one of the non-Trinitarian Christians, was arrested. His case has followed a very uneven way up to the present. First he was charged with apostasy and sentenced to death. The leaders of many different countries expressed their objections to this ruling. As a result of the international pressures, the Islamic regime of Iran stepped back from its initial position, annulled his death sentence and sent his case back to the local court in Gilan province for further investigation.

After sending the case back to the local court, the news media supported by the regime, accused Nadarkhani of some different crimes. Also the governor of Gilan said in a speech that Nadarkhani's crime was not apostasy but he had been jailed for several rapes and establishing brothels.

These things are being said now, although a record of Nadarkhani's apostasy verdict issued by the court in Gilan, was published over the internet some months ago. The complex and lengthy process of this case is a puzzle designed by Iran's judicial authorities, which they now appear unable to solve.

It's also said that the referral of Nadarkhani's case to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has made the resolution of the case more complex. What seems obvious is that a political decision is being developed in which the judicial authorities and Iranian political leaders may share responsibility.

A reporter from the Iranian Christian News Agency, Mohabat News, interviewed one of the attorneys of Yousef Nadarkhani by telephone and asked him about the latest developments on Nadarkhani's case.

 -Please inform us about the status of Nadarkhani's case at the moment?

 - I should say that the case must be referred to the high court again.

- You mean the case will be sent back to the high court?

-Look, if the local court announces the second verdict and if we appeal, the case would be sent to the high court.

- How is Nadarkhani's situation in the prison right now? Is he allowed to visit and/or call his family?

Yes, as far as I know he has no problem in this regard. I mean, I asked him about this and fortunately he is in a good situation in prison. He is not under pressure or other such problems. The related branch of the court allows his family to visit him as much as possible. Fortunately there is no problem in this matter.

- Five of the Marja-e-Taghlids (literally meaning a source of guidance and reference) rejected the accusation of apostasy against Nadarkhani and now his case has been referred to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. If he confirms the apostasy verdict for Nadarkhani, what would happen to his case?

The disagreement between lawyers and judges in this case is whether Nadarkhani meets the conditions to be called an apostate or not. The Marja-e-Taghlids do not reject an apostasy accusation in principle. Generally, they support such kind of accusation. But the discussion is whether Nadarkhani's activities would make him an apostate or not. If according to the facts of his case they recognize him as an apostate then according to the Islamic principles the apostasy penalty would be announced for him. And if not, he would not be treated as an apostate. The major problem is about this issue.
As you asked about the referral of his case to the office of the Supreme Leader, according to our leadership system, if the Supreme Leader decides on something, basically that decision should be implemented.

- Would the decision of the leader have more credibility than the other five Marja-e-Taghlid?

Since he is the Supreme Leader, according to the constitution, he is in a higher position than the other five. The Marja-e-Taghlids would make their comments but the Supreme Leader has the right to issue a final verdict. Such verdicts are binding. I think and I'm quite sure that the judges would implement this final verdict.

- It is said that in a trip to the province of Gilan, Mr. Eje'ei has rebuked the judges for sending the Nadarkhani case to the office of the Supreme Leader. Is this true?

I'm not sure about the accuracy of what you say here and so I can't comment on it. I can just add a point to your words and it is that if there were any rebukes, which I don't think there were, surely it would not take place in a way that everyone would know about it. I mean to say that this is most probably just a rumor.

-During recent months or even years, a large number of Christians were arrested and imprisoned by the security authorities. Even now some Christian converts are being held in prison. In your opinion, why has the accusation of apostasy only been mentioned in Nadarkhani's case?

What has made this case more sensitive is that it's believed that Nadarkhani has undertaken some actions to spread his beliefs. I mean the accusations that are mentioned in his indictment are of forming a house church and of spreading Christian beliefs to others. It is also claimed that he had been a Muslim and later converted to Christianity. These issues have made the case a bit more sensitive.

Of course my colleagues and I don't believe this. I believe that he won't be convicted of being an apostate. The very fact of being a Christian has not made the Nadarkhani case sensitive. He is not being convicted because of being a Christian. It's not like that. As far as we know, our Christian friends and neighbors continue living in peace and are free to practice their faith inside their churches. The accusations pointed towards Nadarkhani are of gathering in a house church, preaching Christianity to Muslims and deceiving them to leave their Islamic beliefs.

However, we are trying to prove the opposite and to prove that he has not done that. And even if any preaching was done among his fellow Christians, it cannot be seen as preaching against Islam. There is also a disagreement about this among the lawyers and judges. We hope that all these disagreements will come to an end and be resolved in some way. I also hope that with the tact of the judges in this case, they will conclude it in good order so that he can go back to his family and this case will finally come to an end.

 

27 October 2011 - Ayatollah's secret securuty

(ACLJ) 27 Oct 2011 - New developments for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, the Christian pastor sentenced to death in Iran, may be an effort by Ayatollah Khamenei to entrap him. Our contacts have notified us that agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and National Security of Iran, commonly referred to as Iran’s Secret Security, visited Pastor Youcef in jail and provided him with printed Islamic propaganda. This propaganda contained information as to why, according to Iran, Islam is the one true faith. The agents requested that Pastor Youcef read and reflect on the materials, instructing him that they would return to discuss the materials with him at a later date.

It is unclear whether this visit was an attempt to entrap Pastor Youcef into saying something against Islam, therefore subjecting him to additional punishments for blasphemy; or whether the agents were trying to do away with the international scandal by allowing Pastor Youcef another opportunity to recant his Christian faith and choose to join the Islamic faith.

We can be certain, however, that this development is the result of increasing international pressure on the Iranian regime. With Pastor Youcef’s case before the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, it is no surprise that security agents, who answer directly to the Supreme Leader, would try to either do away with the case or provide an alternative justification for continued punishment.

Despite Iran’s best efforts to maintain secrecy, we are happy to report that contacts in Iran confirmed that Pastor Youcef was alive as of yesterday afternoon. Your prayers and support for Pastor Youcef are being heard around the world and despite the horrible conditions in Iran, Pastor Youcef is reported as being in good health, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

International pressure against the Iranian regime continues to mount – but it must be sustained until Pastor Youcef is released unconditionally. With your support we will not give the Iranian regime what it desires – silence from the international community. We will continue to put pressure on government officials and on the United Nations to continue to pressure Iran on its blatant disregard for human rights.

25 October 2011 - Youcef's Faith Remains Strong 

Brother Youcef Nadarkhani continues to be held in Lakan Prison in Rasht, Iran. We are still waiting for the verdict to be delivered from the local court in Gilan Province. Youcef’s attitude is positive and he remains very strong in his faith and commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Several weeks ago local court wrote a letter to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, requesting his legal opinion in the case. Presumably we will learn of his response shortly, but there is no precedent or law governing how quickly he needs to respond.

 

Recently, Youcef was given a book by MOIS (Iran’s security services, also known as VEVAK) detailing why, they believe, Christianity is a lie and that Islam is the greatest religion. They asked that he read it and give them his opinion of the book. They are still working to convert him back to Islam or else have documented proof that he is a blasphemer against Islam.

 

Last week, UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed, in his report to the United Nations General session stated, “The Special Rapporteur was particularly disturbed by a recent ruling of the Supreme Court that upheld a death sentence for Yousef Nadarkhani, a Protestant pastor who was reportedly born to Muslim parents but converted to Christianity when he was 19 years old. The verdict reads that, unless he decides to renounce his Christianity, Mr. Nadarkahni will be executed by hanging.” He went on to specifically call for the Iranian government to release brother Youcef.

 

We are grateful for all of the hard work of everyone involved in this case, as well as all the action taken by governing authorities. Most importantly, please remember to keep brother Youcef and his family in prayer.

In Christ,
Jason DeMars
Present Truth Ministries

17 October - Lawyer looks to UN and Pope to free Iranian pastor awaiting execution

Christian Today:  http://www.christiantoday.com/article/lawyer.looks.to.un.and.pope.to.free.iranian.pastor.awaiting.execution/28771.htmMohammad Ali Dadkhah, defense lawyer for Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, has called on the United Nations and the Pope to apply pressure on Iran for the pastor’s release.

 

“Eighty-nine Members of Congress just sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Clinton urging her to engage the UN and pressure Iran to free Pastor Youcef,” explained Jordan Sekulow, executive director for the American Center for Law and Justice.

 

“Our real goal is to keep his case in the spotlight,” Sekulow told The Christian Post.

 

Nadarkhani’s case, which began in 2009, is currently being “reviewed” by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

 

Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor, was originally arrested for protesting in October 2009. His charge then changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelise Muslims, for which he was found guilty in the local Gilan province court. He appealed his case in December 2010 to Iran’s Supreme Court. The case was then passed back down to the lower Gilan province court, which in turn passed it to Khamenei for review.

 

Countries have argued that Iran is in violation of its International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which allows freedom of religion and freedom to change one’s religion.

 

“The most unfortunate thing is that the UN is completely silent on this, which says a lot about where they are,” Sekulow told The Christian Post.

 

“I wish the secretary of state would get a little tougher,” he added.

 

This week the ACLJ sent a letter directly to the UN requesting action in the pastor’s court case.

Sekulow also assured The Christian Post that placing the case into the hands of Khamenei “is better for the pastor because the decision is not under the kind of pressure from clerics or military.”

“There’s no authority higher,” Sekulow added.

 

Sekulow contends that current events have also pushed Iran’s court to involve Khamenei, referencing the recent attempted bomb threat on the United States by the elite Iranian revolutionary group Quds.

 

“In light of what has happened in the United States [on Tuesday] with terror issues I think the Ayatollah is under even more pressure,” stated Sekulow.

 

Although Khamenei is not required to share his opinion with the public, any future move by Iranian court will signify that Khamanei has made his decision.

 

International pressure has pushed Iranian court to confirm that Nadarkhani is currently alive awaiting his verdict.

17 October 2011

There is currently no new news on Youcef Nadarkhani. Please continue to view this page for up to date information. You can also follow updates about Brother Youcef via our dedicated facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/We-are-all-Youcef-Nadarkhani/224360974289130 

Misleading reports (ACLJ)

(ACLJ) 13 Oct 2011 - The latest reports indicating that the Supreme Court has called for yet another retrial are misleading. The Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA), which receives financing from the Iranian government, released a statement yesterday from the Supreme Court indicating that, “If there is an appeal and the case is returned to the supreme court, the case will be reviewed.” The key word from the court is “if.”

Until Ayatollah Khamenei gives his opinion to the appeals court, something that may not be public, or decides to resolve the matter outside the judicial process, we will not know if an appeal to the Supreme Court will be required.

As we have stated throughout the coverage of this trial, the judicial system in Iran operates in a substantially different way than court systems Americans are familiar with.

The only new information is that the Supreme Court has indicated that they would in fact “review” an appeal by Pastor Nadarkhani. A “review” in no way guarantees that the Supreme Court would hold yet another round of hearings and we hope and pray that an appeal will not be necessary.

11 October  - Iran Supreme leader to give ruling (WashingtonPost)

(WashingtonPost) 11 Oct 2011 - Breaking news reports out of Iran provide that the state court of Gilan, which recently demanded that Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani recant his faith or face execution, has delayed its written decision. As we predicted last week, the judges have sent the case to the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. According to Youcef’s lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, “the court has decided to ask the opinion of Mr. (Ali) Khamenei.” Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei is an Islamic jurist and the final arbiter of questions of Sharia law. In Iran, he is seen as a guardian protecting Iran.


The step to involve the most powerful leader in Iran demonstrates that Iran is feeling the pressure. Involving the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei in a case before a regional court is unusual. We can be certain if the lies spread by Iran were true – that Youcef was instead convicted of rape, extortion, and Zionism – the court would not seek the advice of the Supreme Ayatollah.

6 October - New Developments

Today a group of officials from Tehran interviewed pastor Youcef Nadarkhani about the behavior of the judges and the charges filed against him.  While it seems like a positive development, some observers are concerned that they could manipulate his words in an attempt to prove their false charges  against him.
 
Gilan province Chief Justice, Mohammad-Javad Heshmati, was quoted by Iran Press TV as saying, “Youssef Nadar-Khani has been charged with a crime and is in a prison based on an arrest warrant issued against him.... There has been no execution order. No conviction at all has been issued yet and it is up to the court to finally decide the verdict after studying his case." Again, this is a blatant lie as you can see in the attached copy of the written verdict in Farsi and English.

In the report by Iran Press TV, they go on to state that Youcef is a convicted rapist. The ACLJ states,  “What is most dangerous is that the state-run press calls him a ‘convicted rapist.’ According to a 2010 State department report, ‘rape is a capital offense,’ and thus he could still be executed at any time. The most
disturbing part of this is that
false rape charges are often used to execute political and religious dissidents.”

According to our sources, the statements made by Deputy Governor Ali Rezvani regarding the charges of “Zionism” and crimes against national security demonstrate that there is pressure to bypass the legal system and execute him.  Ali Rezvani is a hardliner and has shown that he is an enemy of Christians. According to some, Mr. Rezvani is the individual who pressured the judiciary to bring these charges against brother Youcef.

We have been informed that the verdict is to be delivered on Monday,  October 10th. There is speculation that the delay is a sign that the judges have decided to consult with key religious and political leaders, such as the
Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


We ask that you pray for both of these officials. Pray that God touches their hearts and opens their hearts and minds to the Gospel and the forgiveness offered in Jesus Christ. Of course, pray for brother Youcef, his
wife, Tina, and sons, Daniel and Joel.


In Christ,

Jason DeMars
Present Truth Ministries

Youcef in even greater danger - Jordan Sekulow speaks to FOX News

3 October - According to an article in Sky News, Pastor Youcef May Still Be Hanged Despite Rumours of Release

 

Tim Marshall, foreign affairs editor

 

An Iranian man due to be hanged for converting to Christianity may still be killed despite claims his death sentence has been annulled, Sky News has learned.

 

Christian Solidarity Worldwide is campaigning on behalf of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani whose case has attracted attention in dozens of countries.

 

The human rights group has told Sky News the 34-year-old's sentence may have been annulled but fears remain he will be put to death.

 

A spokesman said: "We've had some reports that there has been a verbal announcement from the court in Iran that the sentence is annulled but we urge caution.

 

"It's been known that verbal announcements have been directly contradicted by later written statements. We are still calling for international pressure to be kept up."

 

Sky sources say Nadarkhani was given a verbal assurance last year that he would not be sentenced to death but then was.

 

The case centres on alleged apostasy - the abandonment or renunciation of one's religion.

 

Pastor Nardarkhani was born to Muslim parents but did not practise the faith and then converted to Christianity when he was 19.

 

He became a member of the Protestant evangelical Church of Iran and held services in "home churches" in the town of Rasht.

 

In 2009, he fell foul of the authorities when he challenged the law which insists that all schools should teach Islam.

 

He was arrested in October 2009 and a year later was sentenced to death for apostasy on a charge which has doubtful legality in the Iranian civil legal system, but which is underpinned by sharia law.

 

Pastor Nardarkhani pleaded not guilty, partially on the grounds that from puberty he was never a practising Muslim and thus had not renounced his faith.

 

But he has denied that Muhammad was the prophet of God.

 

He has been given three opportunities to renounce his Christianity but refused saying: "I am resolute in my faith and Christianity and have no wish to recant."

 

Among those campaigning to save him is the British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

 

He has said: "I pay tribute to the courage shown by Pastor Nadarkhani who has no case to answer and call on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence."

Iranian Government Deception over Pastor's Death Sentence

By Michael Ireland - Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

RASHT, IRAN (ANS) -- Sources inside Iran are revealing Iranian government authorities are providing deceptive information to Western media regarding charges against Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.

According to Jason DeMars of Present truth Ministries (www.presenttruthmn.com ) the Iranian government is releasing various conflicting reports in an attempt to confuse and deceive the Western media.

Demars says Gholam Ali Rezvanithe, head of VEVAK in Gilan province, has released a perplexing and dishonest report regarding Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who stands convicted of apostasy and awaits the outcome a recent review of his case by a lower court, during which he refused to recant his faith in Jesus Christ.

DeMars told ANS: "Rezavanithe is stating that the charges are not apostasy, but rather crimes against national security. The report, posted by Iran's government-controlled media, states that the charges are not in regards to his religion, but from being a 'Zionist.'"

DeMars said Rezvanithe is stating that in Iran no one would be hanged due to their religion, even though the written verdicts state otherwise.

"He also states that the 'verdict' against brother Youcef, for crimes against national security, is not definitive," DeMars said.

"We have the original written verdict from both the provincial court in Gilan and the Supreme Court branch in Qom that detail apostasy. We also have a translation of these documents into English for your review."

Written Verdict From Gilan Province in 2010 http://ow.ly/6KbVa  

Written Verdict From the Supreme Court in 2011 http://ow.ly/6KbWR  

DeMars also points out that CNN also published an article with a misleading title, based on a mistranslation of a similar report originating in Iran.

"While this is all confusing," DeMars said, "it is important to remember the facts that we know. According to Mr Dadkha, Youcef's attorney, we are waiting for the Gilan provincial court to deliver a written verdict, presumably due the week of October 2nd."

According to DeMars, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) http://aclj.org/ is putting together a petition to bring to Secretary of State Clinton calling on Iran to save Youcef.

"I urge you to sign this, as well as share it with your church, friends, or anyone who may be interested," he said.

"Please continue to keep the whole situation in prayer. Youcef's wife, Tina, and their two small boys are also in need of our prayers. This time is especially difficult for them."

30 September 2011

Another well researched, detailed and updated article on Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani appeared on the website of Suite 101 on 30 September 2011.  The article, written by Jen Jones, investigates the background and response to Pastor Youcef who has now been in prison since October 2009.  To read the article click on the following link : 

http://www.suite101.com/news/christian-pastor-nadarkhani-stands-firmiran-threatens-execution-a390907

28 Sept 2011 - Breaking news - Audio report directly from Iran on Nadarkhani case - click PLAY button to start

UPDATE - 27 September 2011 - (CSW - ANS)

(CSW) 27 Sept 2011 - Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani has twice refused to recant his Christian faith during two court hearings held in Rasht, Gilan Province on September 25-26.

Sources close to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) www.csw.org.uk indicate that recanting will again be demanded at sessions scheduled for September 27-28, and that if he continues to refuse, he will be executed thereafter.

CSW explained that Pastor Nadarkhani was tried and found guilty of apostasy (abandoning Islam) in September 2010 by the court of appeals in Rasht. The verdict was delivered verbally in court, while written confirmation of the death sentence was received nearly two months later. At the appeal in June 2011, the Supreme Court of Iran upheld Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's sentence, but asked the court in Rasht, which issued the initial sentence, to re-examine whether or not he had been a practicing Muslim adult prior to converting to Christianity.

CSW says the written verdict of the Supreme Court's decision included provision for annulment of the death sentence if Pastor Nadarkhani recanted his faith. Following investigation, the court in Rasht has ruled that Pastor Nadarkhani was not a practicing Muslim adult before becoming a Christian. However, the court has decided that he remains guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry. CSW said Pastor Nadarkhani's lawyer, Mr Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, has made it clear to the court that the repeated demand for recanting is against both Iranian law and the constitution. The court replied that the verdict of the Supreme Court must be applied, regardless of the illegality of the demand.

CSW stated the death sentence for apostasy is not codified in the Iranian Penal Code. However, using a loophole in Iran's constitution, the judges in Rasht based their original verdict on fatwas by Ayatollahs Khomeini, the "father" of Iran's revolution in 1979, Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, and of Makarem Shirazi, currently the most influential religious leader in Iran. According to CSW, Pastor Nadarkhani, of the Church of Iran denomination, was arrested in his home city of Rasht on October 13, 2009 while attempting to register his church. His arrest is believed to have been due to his questioning of the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran.

Nadarkhani was initially charged with protesting; however the charges against him were later changed to apostasy and evangelizing Muslims. His lawyer, Mr Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, a prominent Iranian human rights defender, is also facing legal difficulties. On Sunday 3 July a court in Tehran sentenced Mr Dadkhah to nine years in jail and a 10-year ban on practicing law or teaching at university for "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime." He is currently appealing the sentence. CSW's Special Ambassador Stuart Windsor said, "CSW is calling on key members of the international community to urgently raise Pastor Nadarkhani's case with the Iranian authorities. His life depends on it, and we have grave concerns regarding due process in this case, and also in that of his lawyer, Mr Dadkhah.

"The verdict handed down to Pastor Nadarkhani is in violation of the international covenants to which Iran is a signatory, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICPPR), which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom to change one's religion. It also violates article 23 of the Iranian Constitution, which states that no-one should be molested or taken to task simply for holding a certain belief."

Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries (www.presenttruthmn.com ), who is also familiar with Nadarkahni's case, says that in its ruling, the 11th branch of Gilan provincial court said that Pastor Nadarkhani "has Islamic ancestry and therefore must recant his faith in Jesus Christ." DeMars told ANS: "The judges, acting as terrorists who have a hostage, demanded that he recant his faith in Christ. They have stated that, even though this judgment is against their current laws, they will uphold the previous decision of the 27th Branch of the Supreme Court." DeMars reported that when asked by the judges to repent, Youcef stated, "Repent means to return. What should I return to? To the blasphemy that I had before my faith in Christ?"

The judges said Nadarkhani should return, "To the religion of your ancestors, Islam." Youcef replied, "I can not."

"Youcef was reported to be happy, his faith strong," DeMars said. DeMars said that Nadarkhani will be brought back to the court on September 27th and 28th for the sole purpose of demanding that he recant.

"My sources report that though they are being told that the case will be sent back to the Supreme Court. However, they are concerned that the provincial court will act upon a law, temporarily ratified by parliament, which would allow him to be executed as soon as Thursday," DeMars stated in an e-mail update. DeMars explained: "This law dictates what should be done with apostates, depending on what type of apostasy has been committed. Section 6 - 225: 'when a person His or Her parents were Muslims at the moment they were trying to have baby, and He or She converts to another religious without claiming to be Muslim, He or She is a National apostate.'"

He added: "Section 8 - 225 states the procedure for handling a national apostate: 'the death sentence is the penalty for National apostate, but after the verdict was pronounced, He or She will be commanded to repent of what He or She has done and if He refuses to repent, He will be killed.'"

"The situation is, of course, quite difficult and confusing. We ask that you continue in prayer for Youcef.

"Ultimately, this is a spiritual battle against the demonic forces seeking to overthrow the faith of the believers there. Let's unite together in prayer, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, binding the work of Satan in this case. Remember that Youcef's life is in God's hands alone. No power is given to his captors besides that which the Father gives."

Breaking News: Iran courts tell Pastor to recant or face execution (BosNewsLife)

(BosNewsLife) 25 Sept 2011 - An Iranian court has asked the pastor of one of Iran's largest house church movements to abandon his faith in Christ and return to Islam if he wants to avoid execution, a church official told BosNewsLife Sunday, September 25.  

On "the first day" of his trial pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, whose first name is also spelled as Yousef, was "asked by the judge...to recant his faith in order to avoid execution," said Firouz Khanjani, a council member of the Church of Iran movement.However the pastor's lawyer, human rights attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, told the court Sunday, September 25, that "this request was against the law and the constitution," Khanjani explained.Nadarkhani was sentenced to death by hanging for being an "apostate" to Islam in November 2010. His appeal against that ruling was rejected on June 27, 2011.

SUPREME COURT

The Supreme Court said "he can be executed" but added it would first ask a "re-examination" by the same lower court that already sentenced him to death.

"The local court was ordered by Branch 27 of the Supreme Court to examine specifically whether he was a practicing Muslim between the age of accountability, 15, until he became a Christian at age 19," said Jason DeMars, director of advocacy group Present Truth Ministries, which also closely follows the case.There was no immediate known reaction from Pastor Nadarkhani, who has been prevented from talking to reporters.Yet, earlier this year he urged members of his home church and other Christians not to give up their faith in Christ. In written remarks, resembling letters written by jailed Apostle Paul from the Bible, Nadarkhani called upon believers to accept persecution “as a part of their spiritual course.”

FAMILY BEHIND

The 34-year-old pastor, who is married with two children, was initially detained in the northwestern city of Rasht in October 2009, while trying to register his home church.

He has been held since in the prison of Lakan, just outside Rasht, where Christians claim he has been tortured.Ahead of Sunday's trial hearing, DeMars asked Christians "if you feel led [by] the Lord" to "fast and pray for brother Youcef", BosNewsLife reported earlier.DeMars said that "Though the situation looks very dark naturally speaking, our God is the one who made light to shine out of darkness and the one who specializes in doing things thought impossible."

JUDGES' HEARTS

He urged believers to "Pray for wisdom for strength for Youcef to take his stand, for the attorney to have wisdom and courage to speak the truth." He said it was also important to pray for "the hearts of the judges to be as clay in the hands of the Master Potter, our Lord Jesus Christ."His case has come to symbolize wider persecution, according to rights activists. Besides the pastor, several other Christians are detained across Iran as part of an effort by authorities to defend what they call "Islamic values" of the strict Islamic nation.

Despite the reported crackdown, there may be as many as 100,000 devoted Christians in Iran, church groups say, many of them former Muslims.

Re-examination on 25 September 2011

15 September 2011 - Present Truth Ministries

 

Youcef Nadarkhani remains imprisoned in Rasht under the death sentence for apostasy. We have learned that the re-examination will take place on September 25, 2011. The local court was ordered by Branch 27 of the Supreme Court to examine specifically whether he was a practicing Muslim between the age of accountability, 15, until he became a Christian at age 19. After they review the case, it will be referred back to the Supreme Court for a final decision.

Behnam Irani remains in prison in Karaj, and recently five other Christians were ordered to report to prison to serve a one year sentence in Shiraz. This is part of a larger campaign by the Iranian government to purge the nation of Christians. Many government paid mullahs have issued statements during sermons encouraging the police to do more to put an end to the Christian movement in Iran. 

I would like to invite each of you to join me on September 24th for a day of fasting and prayer for brother Youcef and his case. Let’s join forces in this spiritual battle and keep our brother continuously covered in prayer.

 
In Christ,

Jason DeMars
Present Truth Ministries

29 July 2011 - Update on Youcef Nadarkhani: Suite 101

A well researched, detailed and updated article on Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani appeared on the website of Suite 101 on 28 July 2011.  The article, written by Jen Jones, investigates the background and response to Pastor Youcef who has now been in prison since October 2009.  To read the article click on the following link : 

http://www.suite101.com/content/sharia-law-in-iran-death-penalty-for-christian-youcef-nadarkhani-a381962

 The article appears on the page for Middle Eastern Affairs, and also on the page for Iran (under M.E. Affairs).

26 July 2011:  Take Action

By Michael Ireland - Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

RASHT, IRAN (ANS) -- While Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani remains in an Iranian prison awaiting re-examination of his case on charges of apostasy sometime in September, ASSIST News Service has received word that so far 1,444 letters have been sent in order to encourage to him.

Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries (www.presenttruthmn.com  ) says that until Nadarkhani's case is reconsidered by the lower court, "it is critical that we continue in prayer for him, that God's purpose would be accomplished through him."

Nadarkhani faces execution by hanging, unless he recants his faith in Jesus Christ.

"We are receiving reports that he is standing firm and strong in his faith, even encouraging those who are discouraged, exhorting them to trust in the Lord," DeMars said.

He continued: "It is also recommended that we continue to send encouraging letters to him using Voice of the Martyr's program, 'Prisoner Alert.' Please do not include money or any other type of gift. The prison guards will take these things for themselves. The letters do not always get through to brother Youcef, but they include scripture and encouraging words, so even if only the prison guards read them, you may be planting a seed of the Word of God in their hearts.

"Also, it lets the Iranian government know that this brother is not forgotten, and that thousands of people are praying for him and are concerned about his welfare."

If you go to www.prisoneralert.com  you will see Pastor Youcef's profile. You can email Iranian officials politely requesting his immediate release, and, more importantly, you can send an encouraging letter to him in prison.

Please forward this email to your friends and ask them to take action on behalf of Nadarkhani.

17 July 2011:  ASSIST News Service Receives Unofficial Translation of Verdict in Youcef Nadarkhani’s Apostasy Case


By Michael Ireland - Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

RASHT, IRAN (ANS) -- An unofficial translation of the written verdict, delivered by the Iranian Supreme Court, in the apostasy case against Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, has now been made available to ASSIST News Service (ANS).

Jason DeMars, of Present Truth Ministries (http://www.presenttruthmn.com/ ) says there are some very significant points included in the translation obtained by his ministry, which has been monitoring Nadarkhani’s case.

“I want you to note that they include the denial of the 12th imam as one of his sins. Also, as we stated previously, if it is discovered that he was a practicing Muslim prior to becoming a Christian he must recant or else be executed by hanging,” DeMars told ANS.

He added: “Youcef was not a practicing Muslim from age 15 to 19. He was born into a Muslim family and did not truly embrace any religion prior to coming to Jesus Christ.

“We ask that you pray for him and his enemies, seek God’s deliverance for him. I also request you continue to write a letter to brother Youcef and take immediate action for brother Youcef.”

The unofficial translation of the Iranian Supreme Court’s written verdict is as follows:

“In the name of Allah

“To the lawyers of the accused (defendant)

“To the local court

“To the state court of Gilan Section 11

“December 5, 2010

“Issued by section 27 Supreme Court Judge Morteza Fazel and Azizoallah Razaghi

“Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani, son of Byrom, 32 years old, married, born in Rasht in the state of Gilan is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad, at the age of 19.

“He has often participated in Christian worship and organized home church services, evangelizing and has been baptized and baptized others, converting Muslims to Christianity. He has been accused of breaking Islamic Law that from puberty (15 years according to Islamic law) until the age of 19 the year 1996, he was raised a Muslim in a Muslim home. During court trials, he denied the prophecy of Mohammad and the authority of Islam. He has stated that he is a Christian and no longer Muslim.

“During many sessions in court with the presence of his attorney and a judge, he has been sentenced to execution by hanging according to article 8 of Tahrir -olvasileh (one of Khomeni’s books about Sharia Law and Khamenie’s and Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi’s fatwa) His sentence was appealed by his attorney and sent to the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court’s Response

“In the name of Allah

“June 12, 2011

This subpoena states:

“We know that Mr. Nadarkhani has confessed that in his heart and in his actions he has denied being Muslim and converted to Christianity and have advertised and encouraged other Muslims to convert to Christianity. And because of advertising and pastoring a church repeatedly professed his Christian faith and denied the prophet Mohammad and the 12th Imam and denied the entire Koran and truth of the Koran.

“His case was forwarded to the Supreme Court (Judge Fazel) and

“According to Part 2 of article 265 of the Islamic Republic Criminal Law, this case received by and must be returned the state court of Gilan Section 11, and further investigated to prove that from puberty (15 years) to 19 he was not Muslim by his acquaintances, relatives, local elders, and Muslims he frequented. He must repent his Christian faith if this is the case. No research has been done to prove this, if it can be proved that he was a practicing Muslim as an adult and has not repented, the execution will be carried out.

“Signed by Morteza Fazeli and Azizollah Razaghi.”

DeMars said: “The situation is quite critical at this time. It appears that the lower court will do a re-examination of the case sometime this fall. They will interview relatives and try to determine according to their judgment whether or not Youcef was a practicing Muslim from age 15 to 19.

“I'm certain if he ever went to the Mosque or went through any Islamic rituals it will be used against him. Our greatest weapon is prayer.”

Written verdict delivered to Youcef Nadarkhani (presenttruthmin)

12 July 2011 - We have learned that the written ruling from the Iranian Supreme Court has finally been delivered to Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's attorney.

According to Jason DeMars of Present Truth Ministries

(www.presenttruthmn.com ) this ruling is in response to the appeal lodged against the death sentence delivered by a lower court on charges of apostasy.

He told ANS: "We have not seen a translation yet, but Iranian sources are telling us that it does not annul the death sentence. According to one source the Supreme Court has agreed with the verdict 'as it is based on fatwas of Ayatollahs Khomeiny, Khamenei and Makarem Shirazi.'"

DeMars explained that a fatwa is a ruling concerning Islamic law. He stated that Ayatollah Khomeiny was the first Supreme leader of Iran, and is considered the father of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei is the current supreme leader, while Ayatollah Shirazi is one of the most influential religious teachers in Iran.

DeMars went on to say: "The source revealed, 'While agreeing with the death sentence, the Supreme Court pointed out procedural flaws and is asking the lower court to re-examine the case. This is the only binding point of the ruling.'"He added: "It has been asked, 'Is there a guarantee that Youcef will not be executed between now and the time of the re-examination?' According to one Iranian source it seems there is no such guarantee."

DeMars continued: "It appears that although the written ruling upholds the death sentence, the judges would like clarification from the lower court that Brother Youcef truly was a Muslim prior to becoming a Christian. If he was, and does not recant, then he must be executed. However if he was not, the verdict of the lower court is not appropriate for this case."Demars further stated that according to the written verdict of the lower court, Youcef said that he never really believed or genuinely practiced Islam. "He says he was simply born into a Muslim family but did not accept it himself," DeMars said."Despite this statement the death sentence was still applied. After re-examing this point the judges in Rasht have the freedom to decide to (either) execute him, release him, or to hold another trial.


"At this point, the most likely outcome appears to be a re-trial later this year, perhaps in the fall. It is important to remember that the Supreme Court did not annul the verdict that was based upon the fatwas of the Supreme Leader. Brother Youcef remains under the death sentence at this time."

DeMars stated that he wanted believers around the world to know  "how encouraged we are at Present Truth Ministries by the developments in Iran."We believe we are beginning to see the answers to your prayers on behalf of our Brother and his family. We know that the Devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking who he can devour. Resist him in the faith, and stand before the Lord for brother Youcef. Keep writing letters, speaking to your elected officials and the representatives of Iran in your country.

"Most importantly, keep bringing your requests to God, for He is able to do far more than we can even ask or think."

New turn in Nadarkhani case (ANS)(CSW)

 

06 July 2011 - Christians in Iran have challenged news reports that the death penalty for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been annulled, pointing out that in reality the Supreme Court appears to have added a precondition requiring him to renounce his faith, or face execution.

According to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), there has still been no written confirmation of the court's decision on Pastor Nadarkhani's appeal against a death sentence for apostasy, despite efforts to source this.

"Pastor Nadarkhani's lawyer, the prominent human rights defender Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, is meant to receive written notification of the verdict next week. However Mr. Dadkhah, who along with Nobel Prize winner Shirin Ebadi is a founding member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, an Iranian organization, is also now facing legal difficulties," said a CSW spokesperson.

On Sunday July 3, 2011, a court in Tehran sentenced Mr. Dadkhah to nine years in jail and a 10-year ban on practicing law or teaching at university for "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime". He has 20 days to appeal; however, sources indicated that he may be imprisoned within a week.

CSW says that when deciding on an appeal, the Supreme Court has three legal options; it can either decide on a retrial, on the withdrawal of initial charges and filing of fresh ones, or on the release of the accused. In this instance, since apostasy is not codified in civil law, the judges may have made use of Article 167 of the Iranian Constitution, which states that while they have a duty to find a basis for their rulings within the legal code, "if such a basis doesn't exist, they must cite reliable Islamic sources or a valid fatwa from which they have drawn a judgment in order to issue a verdict. Judges may not refuse to hear cases or issue rulings only because the case before them is not covered in the legal code, or there may be shortcomings or conflicts in the law."

It adds that the Supreme Court decision in the Nadarkhani case, which has been variously described as "flawed", "contradictory" and "extra-judicial", may indicate that the judges were under political pressure not to release Pastor Nadarkhani. There are also unconfirmed reports of a split decision, with one of the judges allegedly stating that the ruling made little sense. A church source informed CSW, "This is not good news. It merely gives more time to re-examine the case, but in the end the judges will be told what to do".

CSW's Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said, "Our thoughts and prayers are with Pastor Nadarkhani, Mr Dadkhah and their families at this uncertain time. CSW is gravely concerned about the judicial process in Pastor Nadarkhani's case and the precondition to recant his faith. We once again urge the Iranian regime to respect the stipulations of international treaties to which it is party, including the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICPPR), which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom to change one's religion or belief. In addition, the alleged conduct of both cases may amount to a violation of Article 14:1 of the ICCPR, which stipulates the right to a fair hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal. Pastor Nadarkhani's life and Mr. Dadkhah's future both hang in the balance. The international community must act urgently to press Iran to ensure due process in both cases, and that Pastor Nadarkhani in particular is acquitted of a charge that is not in fact recognized under Iranian civil la w." 

 

04 July 2011 - Comments from Jason DeMars

 

Jason said, "We are beginning to hear some mixed messages on the verdict for brother Youcef. Initially our sources received word that the Supreme Court upheld the sentence. This was communicated to two different attorneys in different cities. Now it seems that the Supreme Court has referred the case back to the local court and stated that the death sentence is annulled with the stipulation that he recants.

"Typically the Supreme Court either upholds or annuls a sentence. It appears that there is some pressure on them not to execute brother Youcef.

"They have also twice delayed delivering the written verdict to the attorney's. I believe this is good news and that we need to keep up what we are doing.

"We need to continue the pressure through the power of the prayers of the saints. God is moving in hearts, let's continue to earnestly pray. Send e-mails and letters to the embassies and send a letter to brother Youcef in prison." 

 

Sunday 3 July 2011 - Conflicting reports on Brother Youcef

 Conflicting reports are reaching the desk of INcontext Ministries regarding the situation of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.  The report received from Jason de Mars on Wednesday 29 June 2011 was that the death sentence was upheld and that Pastor Youcef could be  executed any moment.   News received today from the websites of Iafrica and Yahoo News reports that Iran's supreme court has overturned the death sentence handed down to Yusef Nadarkhani.  This news was conveyed by his lawyer to AFP.

 "The Supreme Court has annulled the death sentence and sent the case back to the court in Rasht (his hometown), asking the accused to repent," Mohammad Ali Dadkhah said.

 Nadarkhani, now 32, converted from Islam to Christianity at the age of 19 and became a pastor of a small evangelical community called the Church of Iran. He was arrested in October 2009 and condemned to death for apostasy under Iran's Islamic Sharia laws, which however allow for such verdicts to be overturned if the convicted person "repents" and renounces his conversion.

 After his conviction was upheld by an appeal court in Gilan province in September 2010, Nadarkhani turned to the Supreme Court. His wife, who was initially sentenced to life imprisonment, was released on appeal.

The lawyer said the verdict had been read out to him on the telephone and that he needed to travel to Rasht, where Nadarkhani is being held, to see the ruling for himself.

 Dadkhah said he himself was sentenced on Sunday by a Tehran court to nine years in jail and a 10-year ban on practicing law or teaching at university for "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime".

The lawyer said he had been criticised for having cooperated with the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights, an organisation founded by Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, as well as for giving interviews to foreign radio stations.

 "I have 20 days to lodge an appeal," he said.

 Whether the news is true or false, it does raise hope for a solution and confirms that Brother Youcef is still alive.  We thank God for His sustaining grace in these challenging times.  Keep on praying!

Death sentence upheld in Iran court (Present Truth Ministries)

 

June 29, 2011 - From Jason DeMars - We have learned that the conviction of brother Youcef Nadarkhani for apostasy and his sentence of death has been upheld and confirmed by the Iranian Supreme Court. The typical way that the Iranian authorities act is that at any time they could carry out the death sentence without advance notice. First, they will ask him to recant and if he does not they will execute him. There is no more that can be done for him inside Iran. The only thing that can be done is to put pressure on Iran via the international community. I ask that you pray and follow what God is calling you to do. Contact your elected officials, use the principle of the importunate woman of Luke 18:1-8 who had the judge listen to her because she continued to trouble him.

Please help us work to fight against this conviction against our brother. We know that we are called to be faithful unto death and that many are killed for their faith everyday around the world, but as Christians lets do what we can for Youcef – pray for him and raise our voices against the Iranian regime.

 

3 June 2011 - Report received by Jason DeMars

As we reported in January pastor Behnam Irani had been convicted of "actions against the Order". Which means he organized house church meetings and other Christian activities. It was communicated to him that he would begin to serve his sentence shortly and on Tuesday he was taken into custody and is now in prison serving an 8 month sentence.

As a reminder, pastor Behnam, is a husband and father of two. Please spread the word to pray for his release, for his strength to endure for Jesus and for peace for his family. Also, please spread the word to your elected officials to take action. 

Youcef Nadarkhani remains in prison in Lakan province in northern Iran. He continues to be under the death sentence for apostasy. Earlier this week we were  informed that a decision has been reached in his case. However, no one has been informed as to what that decision is. Please pray for him and his family. Pray that his faith would stand firm  regardless of this circumstance. Pray that the power of the Holy Spirit would work with him in prison to be a witness of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In Christ,

Jason DeMars

Present Truth Ministries  

12 May 2011 - Youcef Nadarkhani remains in prison in Iran

 http://presenttruthmn.com/blog/iran/youcef-nadarkhani-remains-prison/

Please continue to pray for brother Youcef and his family. He remains in prison with drug dealers and abusers. The Supreme Court has done nothing in regards to his case. Please pray that God would continue to preserve his life, provide for his family and give him strength to endure through these afflictions. We do not understand the purpose of God, but we know there is a purpose for suffering and that God is working mightily to preserve our brother in the faith. Suffering is a part of this life, especially so for Christians, but we have hope that regardless of what this life brings us Jesus Christ has given us eternal life and there is a perfect heaven and one day a perfect earth waiting for us. All the good things in this life are merely shadows of the true substance that waits for us. Let us use this life to store up treasures for that life that will never end.

5 March 2011 - Youcef Nadarkhani Held Among Murderers and Drug Peddlers in Iran

By Michael Ireland-Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

TEHRAN, IRAN (ANS) -- Brother Youcef Nadarkhani continues to be in the custody of the Islamic government of Iran under a sentence of death for apostasy.

Jason DeMars of http://www.presenettruthmn.com/  says Youcef is being held in Lakan prison in Gilan province in northern Iran, in the main part of the prison with drug dealers and murderers.

"We are still waiting for the Supreme Court of the Islamic Republic of Iran to review his case and render a judgment on whether or not the death sentence should be carried out," said DeMars in a Facebook update.

"Of course, his wife and children are in a difficult situation as well. I ask that you pray for them and if God moves upon your heart let us here at Present Truth Ministries know about it," DeMars wrote.

"Pray for the Supreme Court members, pray for all involved in his case, that God would touch their hearts and that they would come to know Jesus Christ in the reality of who he is," DeMars said.

"Pray for those who are speaking evil of brother Youcef and calling him a cult leader and a Branhamite and a pseudo-Christian.

"It is a shame that a brother who stands only on the Bible and believes we must first hold to that before the Athanasian or Chalcedonian Creed is held in contempt by both Muslims and Christian sectarians.

"The persecution of our dear brother is coming from every direction. He desperately needs our support and prayers."

DeMars said he believes that through our faith and prayers brother Youcef will eventually be released.

 

21 February 2011 - Situation Unchanged

Jason DeMars reports that Youcef Nadarkhani remains in prison in Lakan province in northern Iran.

“His status has not changed. He continues to be under the death sentence for apostasy. He is waiting for the Supreme Court to either strike down or certify the sentencing. Continue to pray for him and his family.”

Please continue to pray for Youcef and his family

13 January 2011 - An unexpected link

On Saturday, six people were killed and 14 wounded in a shooting in Tucson, Arizona. It appears the target was Gabrielle Giffords, a 40-year-old Democrat in her third term in the U.S. House of Representatives.   The assault happened at a political event in a shopping center parking lot, on the north side of the city. The gunman opened fire with a handgun, striking the congresswoman in the head, and he then turned his sights on the crowd, killing six others, including a nine-year-old girl.

We grieve for all of the victims of this horrible act of violence, but the congresswoman has a special place in our hearts here at VGR.

When the situation with the believers in Iran came to her attention, the congresswoman and her staff embraced the efforts to help free Brother Youcef Nadarkhani and Brother Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani in Iran. She brought the case before the United States Department of State, where they began efforts to halt the extreme persecution of these believers. We have been in contact with both Mrs. Giffords’ office and the State Department since that time, and the efforts are continuing today.

Please remember the congresswoman and all the victims of this tragic shooting in your prayers. She is in critical condition, and needs a touch from the Lord. She may not hold the same values as we do, but she has been a great help to the believers in Iran, and we appreciate her kindness. (From VOG Recordings)

11 January 2011

The following news was received from Jason deMars

The chief prosecutor of Tehran, Iran, Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi, issued a statement on TV today (7 January) regarding our brothers Youcef Nadarkhani and Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani. The prosecutor did not name them by name, but said that the evangelicals will be punished. “We have arrested two of them, one in Rasht and another in Shiraz. They will be punished.” These are the towns where our brothers are being held.

We ask that you continually lift up our brothers before the Lord. They desperately need the prayer and support of believers around the world. These are dark and dangerous times for them. How great it is to serve a God of love, who is rich in mercy! We pray that God would show mercy to our brothers, give them strength and courage to endure, and increase their faith in this trial of suffering. “

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Hebrews 13:3

In Christ,

Jason DeMars

 

 

 

 

 

 

29 December 2010

Word from Jason de Mars is that Brother Youcef is still in custody in Lakan prison but that he is no longer in solitary confinement.  The situation still remains critical though. It could be up to four months until the Iranian Supreme Court rules in regard to the appeal of his death sentence. Pray for Youcef’s guards, cell-mates, and the members of the supreme court. Ask that God would use this situation for his glory in bringing many Iranians to truth and redemption.

Behrouz Sadegh-Khandjani also remains in custody at the military tribunal prison in Shiraz. He along with 6 other Christians, who are not in prison, are awaiting sentencing there.

1.Abdolreza Ali Haghnejad
2.Parviz Khalaj
3.Mehdi Furutan
4.Roxana Furutan
5.Mohammad Belyad
6.Mahyar Afietdoust

The believers in Iran and the refugee believers in Turkey have many needs, but the greatest of them is prayer. Please continue to lift them up before the throne of grace. Fight and battle against the spiritual enemy of their souls, Satan. He is the one that is prowling, using the Iranian government, to see whom he may devour. All of us have the promise that Christ will be with us always even unto the end of the earth. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Because our message is so contrary to the world’s message (whether that be secularism, Islam or any other religion), we have trouble and tribulations. It is normal for Christians to suffer persecution, but we should be of good cheer because Jesus has overcome the world and in our souls we have peace. It is a peace that no circumstance on this earth can take away. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39 In the worldly sense we may not look like conquerors. Sometimes we look like sheep ready for the slaughter, yet through faith we overcome. The world values comfort, but God values faithfulness to Him and His Word. Those who overcome are faithful through great trials, even unto death. A great reward, one that can never be lost, is waiting for those who overcome.

23 December 2010

Human Rights Organization Concerned about Two Iranian Pastors Charged with Apostasy

By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent for ASSIST News Service

NEW MALDEN, SURREY (ANS) -- A leading British-based human rights organization is concerned by reports that two Iranian pastors have been charged with apostasy, and that one of them currently faces a death sentence.

According to a news release from human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), their cases come at a time when religious minorities in the country are experiencing an increase in persecution, including detention and imprisonment.   CSW said Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, from Rasht in Northern Iran, is currently being held in Lakan prison.

He was arrested on Oct. 13 2009 and charged with apostasy after he questioned the Muslim monopoly on the religious instruction of children in Iran. CSW said that violates both the Iranian constitution, which permits parents to raise children in their own faith, and international statutes to which Iran is party, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

CSW said Nadarkhani was reportedly tried and informed verbally in late Sept. that he was to receive the death penalty, although the written sentence was not issued until Nov. 13. Nadarkhani's lawyers filed an appeal on Dec. 5, but a date for the hearing has yet to be announced.


Pastor Behrouz Sadegh-Khanjani, a second generation Christian from Tehran and chairman of the Pastoral Council of the Church of Iran, has been detained in a high security prison in Shiraz since June this year.

CSW said Khanjani was initially arrested in Jan. 2010 after being summoned to Shiraz to explain his church activities, and was detained along with two other Christians.

CSW said Khanjani was released on bail on March 17, then again ordered to Shiraz on June 16 to "present his defense," but was re-arrested and transferred to the infamous "Plate 100 Prison."

According to CSW, Khanjani has now been charged with apostasy, blasphemy, and contact with the enemy. The possible penalty is a death sentence. Despite the serious charges, he has only been given access to his attorney once in the period between his arrest and late Nov.

For the majority of his imprisonment Khanjani has been kept in solitary confinement. CSW has received reports that his health is suffering due to poor sanitary conditions and mistreatment.

CSW's sources also report that Christian prisoners are subjected to eight hours of interrogation a day, and some are kept in cramped rooms where they are unable to sleep.

CSW's Advocacy Director Andrew Johnston said in a news release, "We are deeply concerned for the welfare of Pastors Nadarkhani and Khanjani, who are detained in appalling conditions and cannot be contacted. They are being held solely for exercising their right to freedom of thought, conscience and belief."

He added, "The international community must continue to urge the Iranian Government to release all those detained on the basis of their religious affiliation, to adhere to its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the CRC, and to ensure that all of its citizens can fully exercise their right to freedom of religion or belief."

CSW is a human rights advocacy organization specializing in religious freedom, working on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promoting religious freedom for everyone.

For further information, visit
www.csw.org.uk.

17 December 2010

Jason DeMars from Present Truth Ministries sent out an update on brother Youcef today but with a very specific request that the information not be placed on any websites.  This is obviously for security reasons and we honour this request.  However, we will be happy to send the article to you by email should you wish us read it.  Please contact us at: burnard@iafrica.com

 There is also a new article placed on the website of Barnabas Fund and you are welcome to have a look there for some additional information: http://barnabasfund.org/UK/News/News-analysis/Pastor-facing-death-sentence-in-Iran.html?&quicksearch=youcef

Letter writing Campaign

To join a campaign of Voice of the Martyrs in a letter writing campaign to Pastor Youcef please visit the following site: www.prisoneralert.com/pprofiles/vp_prisoner_206_profile.html

Below is a preview of how your final letter can appear.

Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani

We love you and your family. We are praying for you, your family, and your guards.  I thank God for your faithfulness.  May those who persecute you see Jesus in your life.  The Lord is your shepherd and He will be with you.  Psalm 23:4 Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

 

Address

Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani

Lakan Prison

Rasht

Islamic Republic of Iran

7 December 2010

 

We have received many inquiries as to the next step in the appeal process for brother Youcef Nardarkhani.

 

We have verified that the appeal has been filed. The next step in this process is to wait for the Supreme Court of Iran to make a decision. There will be no hearing.

 

There is also no specific time frame in which this decision is made. It is imperative that we all earnestly pray for Youcef and the officals making the decision during this time.

 

CNN is now covering the story of Youcef and Behrouz. We know that this is but a tool in the hand of God, and we are praying that it helps bring deliverance for our brothers.

 

 

 

If you would like to read an article that they published, it can be found here: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/12/07/iran.christian.death.sentence/index.html?iref=allsearch

 

International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has also been working on behalf of Youcef and Behrouz, and has published an article calling for their release. You can read the article here: http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2010/12/khanjani-nadarkhani-apostasy/

 

Again, we ask that you continue to contact your government officials. Most of all, we ask for your prayer. Our hope and faith lies solely in the Lord Jesus; we continue to pray that He would strengthen the faith of these men, give them courage and boldness in the face of persecution, and that they would feel His presence with them.

 

30 November 2010

I have been informed that the process is under way for appealing the death sentence for brother Youcef Nadarkhani. He needs the strength of the Lord to endure what he is going through. Please lift him up in prayer, and those in the government who are in charge of his case. This is a spiritual battle, and we are fighting against demonic forces. It is not merely a battle against a corrupt government, but a battle against an unseen force seeking to destroy God’s work in Iran. We know that, through Christ, we can have victory, but that victory will not come without fighting. I encourage you to get on your knees and fight! “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12

 

In the flesh the situation looks very dark, but through the eyes of faith, God is working in wondrous ways to complete His work in Iran. There is a purpose in suffering, it is not without reason, and God is there with you in each moment. He is accomplishing His eternal purpose for His glory. ” For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;” 2 Corinthians 4:6-9

Events unfolding

  • 11/13/2010: Death Sentence Delivered for the crime of Apostasy - 20 days to appeal and stop the sentence
  • 10/23/2010: Temporary Delay To Execution of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani - Iran Security officials have asked the courts to temporarily delay the pastor's execution until further notice. Pastor Nadarkhani is still be incarcerated in the security prison in Lakan, Iran.
  • 10/11/2010: Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's wife (Fatemeh Passandideh) is released after four months in Prision
  • 10/02/2010: Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, responsible for one of the largest Protestant communities in Iran, "has been" sentenced to death for apostasy Saturday, October 2 by the 11th Chamber of The Assize Court of the province of Gilan.
  • 06/15/2010: Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, his wife and several other followers of Christ are arrested in the city of Rasht, Province Gilan, Iran