U.S. Welcomes Release of Christian Pastor

September 10, 2012

On Sept. 10, the State Department applauded Iran’s release of a Christian Pastor who was sentenced to death for apostasy in 2010. The charges were reportedly dropped from apostasy to evangelizing Muslims, with a sentence of three years. Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was released for time served, according to news reports. But the United States also criticized Tehran for religious persecution of several religious sects. The following is a statement from Spokesperson Victoria Nuland.

The United States welcomes reports that Iranian authorities have released Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and finally allowed him to reunite with his family. This comes after nearly three harrowing years during which he faced a death penalty sentence on charges of apostasy--in clear violation of Iran's international human rights commitments.

Despite this welcome news, the status of religious freedom in Iran remains grave. Many more Iranians remain in prison and face persecution simply because of their faith. More than 100 Baha'is and members of the Sunni Muslim, Zoroastrian, and Gonabadi Dervish communities suffer in confinement, and we call for their immediate release. The United States will continue to stand with the people of Iran who struggle to have their fundamental human rights respected.