Brazilian Senator Magno Malta, who has been working diligently within the Brazilian government and diplomatically with Iran for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s release, has caught the Iranian government contradicting itself.
Earlier this week, Senator Malta reported to Brazilian media that he had personally met with Iran’s ambassador to Brazil, Mohamad Ali Ghahezadehao, (pictured above) who had informed him that Pastor Youcef would not be executed for his faith, but that he “was convicted of other crimes, theft and prostitution.” The Iranian ambassador also gave Senator Malta an official letter from the Iranian embassy (English translation), claiming the Iran respects the freedom to practice religion and denying Pastor Youcef’s death sentence.
These are precisely the same lies and contradictions that we have repeatedly seen coming from the Iranian government – another attempt to stall public outrage against his case that has been growing in Brazil.
I met with Senator Malta yesterday morning, and provided him with a copy of the original Iranian supreme court verdict convicting Pastor Youcef to death by hanging for his Christian faith in Farsi and translated into Portuguese (the ACLJ also has English and Russian translations).
He reported to Brazilian media:
The senator said he left the Iranian embassy relieved with the information provided by the diplomat. But today morning, his office received a message credited to the Court of Iran. According to the Senator, the sentence confirms the conviction of the pastor to the gallows, for religious crime. A document, dated December 5, 2010, says Yousef Nadarkhani was convicted of "having turned his back on Islam," without reference to crimes such as theft or prostitution. The document confirms that the conviction occurred because the defendant spread the Christian faith, converting Muslims to Christianity, and worked with social action. There is also information that, at trial, he denied Islam and confirmed his conversion to Christianity.
The senator also said that in a document dated June 12, 2011, the Supreme Court of Iran reported that the offender refused to deny the Christian faith and upheld his death sentence. Magno Malta said that defense attorneys claim that Yousef was not practicing Islam since adolescence - which, in theory, eliminate the possibility of apostasy and sentenced to death.
Senator Malta took immediate action, returning to the Iranian embassy demanding an explanation from the Iranian ambassador for what he called "contrary” assurances he had been given by the ambassador. He is also continuing to press for Pastor Youcef’s unconditional release.
I provided these same Iranian supreme court documents to the Vice President of Brazil when I met with him earlier this week, allowing the government of Brazil to engage directly with Iran, fully equipped with Pastor Youcef’s actual conviction order.
This meeting has received considerable press in Brazil, and the supreme court documents should allow the Brazilian government to push past Iran’s initial contradictory response.
Pastor Youcef’s case continues to be a major part of the international discussion regarding Iran. It is absolutely critical that we keep Pastor Youcef’s case in the international media spotlight to keep the pressure on Iran for his release. Please continue to pray, share persecuted pastor’s story, and Tweet for Youcef.