TEHRAN, Iran — A pastor originally sentenced to death for “apostasy from Islam” was released from prison in a move to mark the anniversary of Iran’s 1979 revolution.
Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani was released Feb. 26, Morning Star News reported. He was freed as part of the government’s amnesty marking the revolution of Feb. 11, 1979.
In 2010, he was given the death penalty for leaving Islam to become a Christian. He was acquitted in 2012. However, he was deemed guilty of evangelizing, for which he received a three-year sentence.
Then, in May 2016, he and his wife were arrested after Ministry of Intelligence agents raided house churches and homes of Christians in Rasht. That July, he was accused of “crimes against national security” and of spreading Zionist Christianity.
The next year, he, his wife and two other Christians were given 10-year sentences. Additionally, Nadarkhani’s penalty was to include two years of exile, Morning Star reported.
Two other Christians released in February 2023 are Hadi Rahimi and Zaman Fadaei.
Iran is No. 8 on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian.