FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 25, 2019
USCIRF Vice Chair Nadine Maenza Calls for Release of Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani
WASHINGTON, DC – Nadine Maenza, Vice Chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), today called on Iranian authorities to drop all charges against and to release Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani. One year ago this week, plainclothes Iranian security forces invaded Pastor Nadarkhani’s home, reportedly tasered his son, and took Pastor Nadarkhani to fulfill a ten-year prison sentence for evangelizing and promoting “Zionist Christianity.”
“Iran must release Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and ensure freedom of religion for all citizens of Iran,” said Vice Chair Maenza, who adopted Pastor Nadarkhani as part of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project in 2018. “The Iranian government has vilified and deprived the basic rights of Pastor Nadarkhani and of many other Iranians simply for exercising their freedom of belief. This must stop. I call on the government of Iran to live up to its commitments to its citizens under international law.”
Since 2006, Iranian authorities have consistently harassed and detained Pastor Nadarkhani and his family. In 2010, the authorities sentenced him to death for apostasy before acquitting him in 2012. His current prison sentence stems from his arrest on May 13, 2016, when authorities detained him and his wife before releasing them later that day. On July 6, 2017, Pastor Nadarkhani was ultimately sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or Kellie Boyle at email@example.com or +1-703-898-6554.