Youcef Nadarkhani is a Christian pastor arrested in May 2016 and serving a 10 year prison sentence for national security-related charges.
Though not religious as a child, Pastor Nadarkhani converted to Christianity at age 19, becoming a member of the Only Jesus Church. He now belongs to the Protestant evangelical Church of Iran and served as a pastor of a 400-member house church.
Through much of his life, Pastor Nadarkhani has been the target of religious discrimination, for which he has been arrested, tried, and imprisoned on at least three occasions since 2006. In 2010, he was sentenced to death by hanging for the crime of apostasy for converting to Christianity after adulthood. He was acquitted of the crime and released in 2012 due to international pressure.
Pastor Nadarkhani’s most recent arrested occurred in May 2016 during a government raid on a private Christian ceremony. In July 2017, he was found guilty of “acting against national security” by “promoting Zionist Christianity.” He was sentenced to 10 years in prison and an additional two-year sentence in external exile in southeast Iran. He began serving his sentence in July 2018 and is currently imprisoned in the notorious Evin Prison.
Freedom Now and Dechert LLP filed a petition in April 2020 with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of Pastor Nadarkhani.
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