September 8, 2012 -- New York -- AJC welcomed today's release from an Iranian prison of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani after a court acquitted him of apostasy. The Iranian Christian cleric had been jailed since 2009, and was facing a possible death sentence.
"We are delighted to see Pastor Nadarkhani freed from prison and hope he will now be able to practice again the religion of his choice," said Felice Gaer, director of AJC's Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights. "He should never have been imprisoned all these years. The severe treatment of the Pastor for exercising freedom of religion contravened Iran's international obligations set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."
"Arrested in October 2009 for allegedly questioning the compulsory Islamic education of his children and making a portion of his house a Church, Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy in November 2010."
Nadarkhani's freedom comes after an international outcry over his earlier imprisonment and trial. President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton had called for Nadarkhani's release, and the U.S. House of Representatives also demanded his freedom in a bipartisan resolution that was adopted overwhelmingly in March.
AJC and its Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights have been petitioning for the release of the Pastor and all other prisoners of conscience held in Iran's jails.Date: 9/8/2012 12:00:00 AM