- United Nations, European Union, White House, Human Rights Organizations
Yousef Nadarkhani has been sentenced to death for being a Christian in Iran. He was prosecuted for helping Muslims to know more about Jesus.
The execution has been delayed until further notice since the verdict was not delivered by the court. He may be executed at any moment without being noticed.
He was first imprisoned in December 2006, on the charges of apostasy from Islam and evangelism to Muslims. He was released two weeks later, with no word on the charges.
In 2009, Yousef discovered a recent change in Iranian educational policy that forced all students, including his children, to read from the Qur'an. After Youcef heard about this change, he went to the school and protested, based on the fact that the Iranian constitution guarantees freedom to practice religion. His protest was reported to the police, who arrested him and placed him before a tribunal on October 12, 2009, on charges of protesting. The charges were later changed to apostasy and evangelism, the same charges he was initially arrested under in 2006. Youcef was held at a prison in Lakan, a suburb of Rasht.
On June 18, 2010, his wife Fatemah was arrested. She was reportedly threatened with having her children taken away and given to a Muslim family. She was put on trial without an attorney and given a life sentence. After the trial she hired an attorney who appealed the conviction, and the conviction was overturned on October 11, 2010.
On September 21-22, 2010, Youcef appeared before the 11th Chamber of The Assize Court of the province of Gilan, where he was orally given a death sentence for the charge of apostasy from Islam. The sentence can not be appealed to the Supreme Court of Iran until it is given in writing, and the authorities have delayed. Yousef's lawyer, Nasser Sarbaz, was informed of the verbal sentence on October 2. Yousef's lawyer claims there were numerous procedural errors during Yousef's trial.
After conviction Youcef was transferred to a prison for political prisoners, and denied all access to his family and attorney. Youcef was initially scheduled for execution on October 24, but on October 23, 2010, Youcef received a temporary stay of execution, which was requested by Iran's security officials. Christians believe the delay in execution is an attempt by Iran's secret police to force Youcef to recant Christianity.
On October 29, 2010, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom asked President Barack Obama to press Iran to release Yousef.