Iran: Pastor Nadarkhani May Face New Charges in September
Christian Solidarity Worldwide has received reports that imprisoned Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani may face fresh charges in September, pertaining to crimes against national security and possibly blasphemy. According to CSW's sources, judges have reportedly received instructions to try Nadarkhani on new, trumped-up charges in order to make his sentence appear more acceptable. A date for the new trial may have been set for September 8, 2012. Nadarkhani is currently facing the death sentence for apostasy, which was upheld following an appeal at Iran's Supreme Court. He was arrested in his home city of Rasht in 2009, soon after questioning the Muslim monopoly of religious instruction for children, which he felt was unconstitutional. His case has twice been referred to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has yet to issue a final ruling. Nadarkhani has been offered freedom in exchange for renouncing his faith on at least four occasions, but has consistently refused to do so. Without the intervention of Khamenei or Sadegh Larijani, the head of the Iranian judiciary, who have the authority to halt an execution, authorities are obliged to carry out the Supreme Court ruling, which stated that Nadarkhani could be executed if he refused to recant. Sunday, July 8 will mark 1,000 days since Nadarkhani was imprisoned.