It is clear that our efforts to put international media and political pressure on Iran to release Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani – who is facing execution for his faith – are having a tremendous impact.
The Iranian government has taken note of these efforts and has reacted by spreading lies about Pastor Youcef in an attempt to sway international attention from this horrific human rights abuse.
Over the last few days, we have reported that Iran’s semi-official news agency has spread false reports that pastor Youcef was never convicted of converting from Islam to Christianity, but that he had instead been charged with being a “Zionist” and committing “security crimes.” This is the worst possible charge that Iran could level at Pastor Youcef, and as one Iranian expert explained: “As soon as Iran’s regime is placed under international pressure because of its barbaric Middle Age laws, the regime looks for another reason to peddle” its execution sentence against Pastor Youcef.
Now, for the first time, the Iranian government has made a statement about Pastor Youcef, spreading blatant lies about his case. The official Iranian statement provides that “Iran has not issued any verdict on his case” and that “published news regarding the death penalty . . . are unsubstantiated.”
These are boldfaced lies being spread by the Iranian regime about Pastor Youcef because they have been caught in the act of attempting to execute a man for his faith, something that violates international and Iranian law and reportedly hasn’t happened in Iran for over 20 years.
We have the actual verdict from the Iranian supreme court (in original Farsi and translated into English by the Confederation of Iranian Students in Washington ), which provides undeniably that “Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani . . . is convicted of turning his back on Islam . . . .” The verdict further states, “During many sessions in court with the presence of his attorney and a judge, he has been sentenced to execution by hanging . . . .”
There is no question that Pastor Youcef has been convicted of apostasy and sentenced to death. It is crucial that Secretary of State Clinton – our top international diplomat – take the lead and that the United Nations (U.N.) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) end their silence on this issue and pressure Iran to spare Pastor Youcef’s life and release him unconditionally.
We can report from our contacts in Iran that, as of today, Pastor Youcef is still alive, but time is of the essence.
We know that the Iranian regime is taking note of our efforts, and now is the time to step up those efforts to keep this international pressure on Iran. You can help in this effort by joining the over 50,000 who have already signed the petition we are sending to Secretary of State Clinton and the U.N. to call on Iran for the immediate and unconditional release of Pastor Youcef.
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