Bloomberg News

Britain, U.S. Call on Iran to Halt Execution of Christian Pastor

September 29, 2011

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. and the U.S. urged Iran to overturn a death sentence imposed on an Iranian Christian pastor for apostasy.

Youcef Nadarkhani, a member of the Protestant evangelical church in the Islamic republic, faces a death sentence for refusing to recant his faith.

“I deplore reports that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian church leader, could be executed imminently after refusing an order by the Supreme Court of Iran to recant his faith,” Foreign Secretary William Hague said in a statement on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website.

“This demonstrates the Iranian regime’s continued unwillingness to abide by its constitutional and international obligations to respect religious freedom,” the statement said. “I pay tribute to the courage shown by Pastor Nadarkhani who has no case to answer and call on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence.”

In Washington, the Obama administration also condemned the action and called for Nadarkhani’s release.

“A decision to impose the death penalty would further demonstrate the Iranian authorities’ utter disregard for religious freedom, and highlight Iran’s continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement.

--With assistance from Roger Runningen in Washington. Editors: Joe Sobczyk, Ann Hughey.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Simpson at jsimpson12@bloomberg.net


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