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U.S. Condemns Iranian Death Sentence For Pastor Nadarkhani

2/24/2012 11:18 AM ET

A White House statement released Thursday condemned Iranian authorities for reportedly reaffirming the death sentence for Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for the sole reason of his refusal to recant his Christian faith.

The young pastor, who once led a 400-person congregation in Iran's Gilan province, was arrested in 2009 for apostasy, abandoning Islam for Christianity.

Nadarkhani, 34, had been waiting to learn his fate for months. After he was found guilty and sentenced to death, Iranian authorities gave him four chances to save his life if he denounced his faith. Nadarkhani turned down the offers, and Iranian officials issued his execution order on Wednesday.

"This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran's international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values," the White House said. "The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution—a fundamental and universal human right.

The statement added, "The trial and sentencing process for Pastor Nadarkhani demonstrates the Iranian government's total disregard for religious freedom, and further demonstrates Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens."

The date of Nadarkhani's execution has not been announced. The U.S. has called on Iranian authorities to immediately lift the sentence and release Nadarkhani.

by RTT Staff Writer

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