Iran has scheduled a September court date for evangelical Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, whose incarceration for practicing Christianity reaches the 1,000-day mark on Sunday.
In an email to The Jerusalem Post on Friday, Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law & Justice, wrote, “We have confirmed that Pastor Youcef is scheduled to appear in court on September 8. We do not know the purpose of the appearance or the likelihood of new charges. We want to dispel any rumors that his current apostasy charge, for which he was sentenced to death, has been removed. Until the regime unconditionally exonerates and releases Pastor Youcef, his apostasy charge stands.”
The center, which has been the principal advocate of Nadarkhani’s release, is a US-based organization that defends religious freedom.
“What we do know is this latest development occurs just days before Sunday, July 8, which marks the 1,000th day of captivity for Pastor Youcef. We will continue to closely monitor developments surrounding this new court date and remain hopeful that growing international attention ultimately will result in his unconditional release. Our global support to free Pastor Youcef continues to grow. Our Tweet for Youcef campaign now reaches more than 2.5 million people a day in more than 220 counties and territories,” Sekulow added.
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When asked about reports that new allegations have been leveled, Sekulow wrote, “We have no evidence the regime has changed or added new charges against Pastor Youcef. Pastor Youcef was summoned to appear before the court on September 8, but no rationale was given for this summons. It has always been a possibility that the regime could bring new or additional charges against Pastor Youcef to justify its actions. But to speculate that new, unconfirmed charges also means the regime removed the threat of death creates a danger that the world will stop paying attention.
"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,” said Sekulow.
Tweet for Youcef continues to grow reaching nearly 100,000 new Twitter accounts in the last day, bringing the total reached daily to 2.6 million. We will continue to call for his release and keep you informed as we learn more information about Pastor Youcef’s new trial date.