IRAN: Pastor Nadarkhani released as part of national amnesty

CSW (02.28.2023) – Iranian church leader Yousef Nadarkhani was released on 26 February as part of a national amnesty issued by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei to commemorate the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

CSW’s sources have confirmed that the pastor is now free and is still in Tehran to finish some formal procedures related to his release. He will join his family in Rasht as soon as these formalities are completed.

Pastor Nadarkhani was one of four Christians initially arrested in Rasht on 13 May 2016 during a series of raids by security agents on Christian homes. While the men were released on bail in 2017, they were re-arrested in another series of raids between 22 and 25 July 2018.

In June 2020, Pastor Nadarkhani and one of the other imprisoned men, Deacon Saheb Fadaie, who CSW’s sources confirm was also released as part of the recent amnesty, had their sentences reduced to six years on appeal.

In February 2021, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention published an opinion that the pastor’s continued detention was arbitrary.

CSW’s Founder President Mervyn Thomas said: ‘We welcome the long-overdue release of Pastor Nadarkhani and Deacon Fadaie, but note that they have lost years of their life in prison on false charges as a result of Iran’s continuing criminalisation of the Christian faith, among other religions and beliefs. We call on the Iranian authorities to ensure that these men are permitted to enjoy their freedom without further harassment or intimidation, and continue to call for the immediate and unconditional release of all others who are currently imprisoned on account of their religion or belief.’

Caption: Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani

Further reading about FORB in Iran on HRWF website