the grave consequence of refusing to recant in Iran

Concern continues to mount for the 34 year old Iranian Christian pastor who has refused to recant his faith and so now faces the threat of a death sentence.  Amnesty has closely monitored the situation of Yousef Nadarkhani, a pastor of a 400-member church  since his arrest in October 2009.  In September 2010 Yousef was sentenced to death for “apostasy from Islam”, despite no such crime existing under Iran’s penal code at the time.

Yesterday Yousef was in court and offered an opportunity to recant his faith.  He refused. David Allen Green’s blog on New Statesman.com provides a detailed account of the judgement here.

The Times reports that a panel of five judges will now decide within a week whether his execution for apostasy will go ahead.  Foreign secretary William Hague has reportedly appealed to the authorities in Iran to stop this execution from going ahead as has the Archbishop of Canterbury. Meanwhile, Sky News has recently reported that the death sentence has been annulled but Yousef still faces execution for converting to Christianity.

Amnesty has repeatedly called on the Iranian authorities to uphold freedoms of belief and expression as guaranteed in international law and to release immediately and unconditionally all prisoners of conscience, including Yousef. It looks as though many more decisions will be taken over the next week in relation to Yousef’s case.   

We'll continue to monitor the situation and call for Yousef to be released immediately and unconditionally.

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