New court date set for jailed Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani

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A new court date has been set for Youcef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor on death row who has been imprisoned for nearly 1,000 days, but his supporters remain in the dark about what it could mean for his ultimate fate, has learned.

Nadarkhani, 35, is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 8, according to Jordan Sekulow, executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice, which has been closely monitoring the case.

“We do not know the purpose of the appearance or the likelihood of new charges,” Sekulow told “We want to dispel any rumors that his current apostasy charge, for which he was sentenced to death, has been removed. Until the regime unconditionally exonerates and releases Pastor Youcef, his apostasy charge stands.”

The length of Nadarkhani’s imprisonment will reach 1,000 days on Sunday, said Sekulow, who remains hopeful that growing international attention will lead to his unconditional release.

“Our global support to free Pastor Youcef continues to grow,” he said. “Our Tweet for Youcef campaign now reaches more than 2.5 million people a day in more than 220 counties and territories."

Nadarkhani, a pastor in a network of house churches, has been jailed since being arrested on Oct. 13, 2009, after he went to his son’s school to complain about them starting mandatory Koran classes. He was then charged with apostasy from Islam. He was found guilty by the Iranian Supreme Court and sentenced to death in 2010 and has been imprisoned ever since.

Present Truth Ministries, a Minnesota-based organization, said in a statement Thursday that Nadarkhani will likely be tried for crimes against security in September.

“Our sources in Iran have informed us that Youcef has been officially notified of a new trial for crimes against national security in September,” the ministry said. “We assume by implication that this means the charges of apostasy have been dropped since the new charges have been issued, but we have no confirmation of that.”

In May, Nadarkhani thanked his supporters in a letter released by Washington-based human rights group American Center for Law and Justice.

“First, I would like to inform all of my beloved brothers and sisters that I am in perfect health in the flesh and spirit,” the letter read. “From time to time I am informed about the news, which is spreading in the media, about my current situation … or campaigns and human rights activities which are going on against the charges which are applied to me.”

An apostate, according to Islamic Sharia law, has three days to recant. Nadarkhani has refused to do so and sources close to the matter say executions in Iran can happen at any time, often without notice. The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution earlier this year condemning his imprisonment and calling for his immediate release.