Yousef Nadarkhani | Iran
Source: CSW, USCIRF, Middle East Concern
Since 2006, Iranian authorities have consistently harassed and detained Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and his family. In 2010, the authorities sentenced him to death for apostasy before acquitting him in 2012.
Yousef Nadarkhani converted to Christianity at the age of 19, becoming a member of the Only Jesus Church. He is currently both a member of the evangelical Church of Iran and pastor of a 400-member house church. He has a wife and two sons.
Current Prison Sentence:
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 Yousef Nardarkhani along with fellow converts Yasser Mossayebzadeh, Mohammadreza Omidi, and Saheb Fadaie, were each sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for propagating house churches, and promoting “Zionist Christianity’. Yousef and Mohammadreza were also sentenced to two years internal exile. They have to serve this sentence in the south of Iran, far away from their families in Rasht. The four were given 20 days to appeal their sentences, and although they continued their appeal, they were informed in May 2018 that the sentences had been upheld.
On July 22, Yousef was arrested and reportedly taken to Evin Prison in Tehran. The violent manner of his arrest was widely reported. Around ten police officers arrived at the house and physically assaulted Yousef’s son when he opened the door to them. Both Yousef and his son were tasered despite offering no resistance. The manner of their arrest was probably an attempt to intimidate the Christian community, but their friends reported that the church had not given in to fear. It was last reported that Pastor Yousef was put in a ‘quarantine’ ward normally used as a place of punishment.