Youcef Nadarkhani freed from Iranian prison after 1000 in jail
Originally sentenced to death for his Christian faith, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani of Iran has been acquitted of apostasy charges and released from custody. After a six hour hearing, he was released and able to return to his family.
A statement by the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom says it welcomes the release of Youcef Nadarkhani and urges Iran to free other “prisoners of conscience.”
Nadarkhani had been held since October 2009 amid conflicting reports on the charges against him. Nadarkhani, 34 and a native Iranian, was found guilty in 2010 of apostasy and sentenced to death for refusing to recant Christianity. He has spent the last three years in jail awaiting his fate.
“After languishing in prison for almost three years, he has been reunited with his family,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director of ACLJ said in a statement toFoxNews.com.
Iranian officials had no comment Sunday on the reports of Nadarkhani’s release. His whereabouts were not immediately known.
Brazil has been considered to be a key-country with “great influence” on the negotiations with Iranian government to free Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, according to Director of Operations of Brazilian Center for Law and Justice (BCLJ), Filipe Coelho.
Coelho said, in a recent email to The Christian Post, that the protests that took place at the recently held UN Conference on Sustainable Development – and an official letter delivered to Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to demand Youcef’s release, have been very positive.
“We don’t know if the letter reached his hands, but we know that a lot of people who were not aware of the case got involved after the protests held by some Brazilian pastors,” he wrote to CP.
Good diplomatic relations between Brazil and Iran were seen as hopeful for the efforts to release the Pastor.
According to Filipe, specifically for Youcef’s case, weekly meetings have been held between the Iran Ambassador in Brazil and the Brazilian senator Magno Malta and the president of Christian Social Party (PSC), Pastor Everaldo Pereira.
“They have been holding a weekly meeting with Ambassador and with this we were able to have good results and a great influence on the case. Our vice-president Michel Temer has also been attentive to us,” Filipe said.