Iran: Pastor Nadarkhani released, imprisoned lawyer Mohammed Ali Dadkhah’s health deteriorates  07/01/2013

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has learned that Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, who was re-imprisoned on Christmas Day, was released today.

In September 2012, Pastor Nadarkhani was acquitted of apostasy but received a three year sentence for evangelising Muslims. Since he had already spent close to three years in Lakan Prison in Rasht, the pastor was released after posting bail. However, in a highly irregular move, he was returned to jail on Christmas Day on the orders of prison authorities, who claimed he had been released too early due to the insistence of his lawyer, Mohammed Ali Dadkhah.  Mr Dadkhah, a prominent human rights lawyer, was subsequently jailed for ten years and disbarred in September 2012 for "actions and propaganda against the Islamic regime" and keeping banned books in his home.  He was also banned from practising or teaching law for ten years.

Mr Dadkhah is currently held in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison. Concerns have been expressed for his well-being following reports that he is suffering from memory loss and is under pressure to make a televised confession of guilt.

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, "We are pleased to learn of Pastor Nadarkhani's release. While we welcome this news, we remain concerned that like so many other Christians who have been unjustly detained, there is always a risk of re-arrest. We are also concerned to learn of Mr Dadkhah's condition and hold the regime responsible for the deterioration in his health. Moreover, official attempts to justify his imprisonment by attempting to coerce an "on air" confession are not only reprehensible, but are also clear indications that the charges levelled against him were spurious. CSW calls for the immediate release of Mr Dadkhah and for an end to the campaign of harassment of civil society. We also continue to call on the Iranian government to uphold the rule of law and allow the country's religious minorities to enjoy religious freedom as guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is party.

For further information or to arrange interviews please contact Kiri Kankhwende, Press Officer at Christian Solidarity Worldwide on +44 (0)20 8329 0045 / +44 (0) 78 2332 9663, email kiri@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a Christian organisation working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights, in the pursuit of justice.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is a human rights organisation which specialises in religious freedom, works on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs and promotes religious liberty for all.

For more information, please call 0845 456 5464, email admin@csw.org.uk or visit www.csw.org.uk