Persecution of Christians increases in Iran … Pastor arraigned over “acts against state security”

Iranian authorities charged a well-known pastor with “acts against national security” and beat another as persecution of Christians continued the past month.
Youcef Nadarkhani, a pastor once charged with apostasy and then acquitted in 2012, was charged with acting against national security. Summoned to the 13th Branch of the Revolutionary Court in Rasht on July 24, he was released but then told he had a week to raise the equivalent of US$ 33,000 in security bond, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).
It was unclear why the court would release him without bond in order to raise a bond for his release. It was also unclear how much of the bond Nadarkhani has been able to raise.
Iranian Security Service (VEVAK) officers on May 13 raided the home of Nadarkhani and his wife, Tina Nadarkhani, in Rasht along with 10 other Christian households. The Nadarkhanis were arrested and then released immediately. Three other Christian converts, Mohammadreza Omidi, Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Saheb Fadaie, were detained and then later released without charge on a bond of approximately US$33,000.
“With regards to Pastor Nadarkhani, the authorities summoned him, charged him and let him go home to raise the money within seven days, at which point he will be imprisoned if he fails,” said Kiri Kankhwende, senior press officer for CSW. “We cannot speculate as to why his case was handled this way while the other three members of his church were detained pending bail. Conjecture may prove unhelpful, so we would rather not speculate.”
In 2010, the Iranian government charged Nadarkhani with apostasy and sentenced him to death. The charges stemmed from a 2009 arrest after Nadarkhani went to his children’s school to question the Islamic-only religious education that was available. In September 2012, he was released from prison following his acquittal on apostasy charges. He was found guilty of evangelizing, however, ordered back to prison on Dec. 25, 2012 and released on Dec. 7, 2013.
Mervyn Thomas, CSW’s chief executive, said in a press statement, “It is deeply troubling to hear of the renewed harassment of Pastor Nadarkhani. The national security charges leveled against him are spurious and an indication that the authorities persist in criminalizing the Christian community for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief.”

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