In Nov. 2012, it seemed as though Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s legal problems had finally concluded. But on Christmas Day, the 35-year-old Christian preacher was, once again, detained by Iranian officials and sent to Lakan Prison in Rascht – the same jail he was held in from his arrest in 2010 until his release last year. Today, Nadarkhani was, again, released from the prison after serving 13 days, according to sources close to him and his family.
The initial three-year-sentence was given after Nadarkhani's most recent legal problems began in 2009; he was charged with renouncing his Muslim faith. The pastor’s case quickly gained international attention, which, to a degree, may account for the regime’s decision to heavily-reduce his initial execution sentence. In fall 2012, he was released 45 days early after being acquitted of apostasy.
Pastor Nadarkhani (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, was inevitably placed back behind bars late last month, 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 and his family (Photo Credit: ACLJ)
News of Nadarkhani’s re-arrest and subsequent release 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.