PrisonerAlert Update: Youcef Nadarkhani
VOM contacts say the chief justice in Gilan province told Youcef's lawyers last week (Jan. 16, 2012) that if Youcef repents, he will be released. Youcef told his attorneys repenting means leaving Christianity to return to Islam. He said it was impossible for him to "return" to Islam, since he was never Muslim.
Our contacts write, "Because of your prayers and concerns, the regime is afraid to issue a negative verdict, and yet they do not want to release him..."
Please continue to surround Youcef with your prayers. Pray that the chief justice will have a change of heart.
Youcef Nadarkhani, a 34-year-old pastor from Rasht, about 750 miles northwest of Tehran, was arrested in October 2009 after he protested a government policy that required children, including his 8- and 9-year-old sons, to study the Quran in school. Youcef told school officials that the Iranian constitution allows for freedom of religious practice. As a result of his protest, secret police called him before a political tribunal and arrested him for protesting. The charges were later amended to apostasy and evangelism of Muslims. Youcef was tried on Sept. 21–22, 2010 by the 1st Court of the Revolutionary Tribunal and sentenced to death on Nov. 13 for apostasy.
The pastor is imprisoned in Lakan prison, where authorities have used various methods, including medication, to convert him back to Islam.
After Youcef refused to convert to Islam, his wife was arrested, put on trial without an attorney and sentenced to life in prison. She was later released after an attorney appealed her sentence. The Nadarkhanis’ children were cared for by a relative while they were both in prison.