Youcef Nadarkhani, who was acquitted of apostasy and released from an Iranian prison this past September, has been arrested again by Iranian authorities and put back in prison to serve another 40 days.
Reports state that the director of Lakan Prison explained that Nadarkhani was released too early because his attorney Mohammed Ali Dadkhah was insistent that he be set free upon acquittal of the apostasy charge. Nadarkhani had served over three years in prison, and during a hearing this September, was found guilty of helping to convert Muslims to Christianity. Because he had already served the time — or so they thought — he was released.
However, prison officials state that there was actually time left on Nadarkhani’s sentence, and so he is serving another 40 days in prison. They also claim that paperwork had been improperly completed in the matter.
As previously reported, Nadarkhani was first arrested in October 2009 for protesting against the Iranian government’s new policy to require all children to study the Koran. He was charged with apostasy and for attempted conversion of Muslims, and was incarcerated while proceedings went forward.
In 2011, the Iranian Supreme Court informed Nadarkhani that they would drop the charges if he converted to Islam. He refused, and remained imprisoned. Reports circulated that he had been sentenced to death, which the Iranian government denied.
“Mr. Nadarkhani at the moment is a suspect that is jailed because a warrant of arrest has been issued, and he is not sentenced to death at the moment,” stated Mohammadjavad Heshmati, judiciary chief of Gilan Province in Iran. “We deny the allegations. There has been no judgment against him whatsoever, so it’s wrong to say he is waiting for the execution of his death sentence.”
After Nadarkhani’s release in September, many rejoiced in his freedom.
“Today marks a day of celebration. After languishing in prison for almost three years, under the threat of execution for his faith, Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani has been released from prison and acquitted of his apostasy charge,” wrote the American Center for Law and Justice, which had been fighting for his release, in a statement.
However, while desiring the best for Nadarkhani, others have expressed concerns over his documented beliefs, namely his denial of the Godhead, a doctrine known as nontrinitarianism or antitrinitarianism.
“We do not believe in the Trinity based on our faith because the Bible talks of one God,” Nadarkhani told Mohabat News.
He states that he received his ordination to become a priest from an organization in Canada.
“Since this degree has been received for me by one of my friends, I do not know exactly who issued it, but I know that the entity that issued it is a leader of Protestantism,” he said.
Nadarkhani will be released from prison in early February.