Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani's story has been both a troubling and tragic one. While his plight seemingly ended positively earlier this year, the nightmare is nowhere near over. After initially arresting him for apostasy, Iranian officials changed their minds numerous times surrounding the charges that were waged against him. Then, this fall, after nearly three years behind bars, he was released, sparking a sigh of relief among human rights workers. But on Christmas day, Nadarkhani was, once again, detained.
According to those close to Nadarkhani, the 35-year-old pastor has been sent back to Lakan Prison. While he was acquitted of apostasy in September, he was held accountable for evangelizing Muslims -- a crime that left him with a three-year prison sentence. However, at the time of his release, he had already served nearly that much time in prison, allowing him to be freed after posting bail.
Pastor Nadarkhani and his family (Photo Credit: ACLJ)
The court, at the time of Nadarkhani's release, said that his remaining 45 days could be served as probation. But the pastor, despite the government's claims, has now been placed back behind bars, in an effort to seemingly force him to complete the initial sentence. Of course, this action is not entirely surprising, considering Iran's treatment of Mohammed Ali Dadkhah, the pastor's attorney.
Dadkhah was also detained earlier this year. TheBlaze previously reported that the lawyer, who is known as a prominent human rights advocate, has allegedly been sentenced to nine years in prison for “acting against national security.” His sentencing, it seems, has resulted from his defense of the pastor and others who were detained following Iran’s disputed 2009 elections.
In addition to his prison sentence, the lawyer has reportedly been banned from teaching in Iranian universities and from practicing law for the next 10 years. According to Fox News, Dadkhah's family claims that he is not being given proper dental care and that his health is fading, as he is being held in Iran's ever-brutal Evin Prison.
Pastor Nadarkhani (Photo Credit: ACLJ)
News of Nadarkhani's re-arrest comes as a U.S. citizen and Christian convert, the Rev. Saeed Abedini, has also been detained in Iran (The American Center for Law & Justice has more about Abedini's case).
Nadarkhani is a married father with two small children. He first came under fire in 2006, when he asked to have his Christian church registered by the Iranian government. Media reports indicate that he was then arrested and released shortly after. Then, in 2009, he went to local officials to complain about Muslim indoctrination in his local school district. Nadarkhani argued that his children shouldn't be forced to learn about the Islamic faith. Not long after, he was arrested.
(H/T: Fox News)