Iranian pastor released

IRAN | Iranian authorities acquit and free pastor Youcef Nadarkhani after three years of imprisonment

Iranian authorities acquitted condemned pastor Youcef Nadarkhani of apostasy charges and released him from a Tehran prison, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

The acquittal comes nearly three years after Iranian authorities jailed Nadarkhani on charges of apostasy against Islam and sentenced the pastor to death by hanging.

The ACLJ – a Washington, D.C.-based Christian advocacy group with close ties to Nadarkhani – reported that the pastor appeared in an Iranian court on Saturday for another hearing on the charges brought against him: “His hearing lasted almost six hours. But in the end, he was released and able to return home to his family.”

A statement from the ACLJ said that sources reported the court reduced Nadarkhani’s charges to evangelizing Muslims and released him with time served. The photo accompanying this article shows Nadarkhani, 32, greeting his two young sons and supporters bearing flowers as he left the prison. The pastor appears healthy.

Nadarkhani’s sudden release was a surprising turn in a case that had drawn international attention. Christian advocacy groups and lawmakers from around the world – including the United States – had called for Iranian authorities to spare the pastor’s life and release him from jail. Nearly 3 million people worldwide had voiced support for Nadarkhani in a “Tweet for Youcef” campaign on Twitter.

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