Ministry Warns Iran Could Kill Pastor in Secret

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The Iranian pastor facing a death sentence for refusing to renounce his Christian faith could spend another year in jail waiting an appeal on his death sentence.

Meanwhile, Iranian authorities are continuing to pressure Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani to convert to Islam, according to the Christian Post.

Present Truth Ministries, a ministry that has followed the pastor's case for more than two years, said last month that Nadarkhani's lawyer had asked the presiding judge to delay the pending judgment and keep him in prison for another year.

Nadarkhani, 34, was convicted of apostasy last year and was sentenced to death by hanging.

In September, his sentence was just two days from being carried out when the Supreme Court of Iran asked for a retrial by a lower court in the city of Rasht.

Now, the deliberate delay is meant to let the case "slip away from international attention" even as the authorities continue to "use whatever means necessary to cause him to convert to Islam," Jason DeMars, founder of Present Truth Ministries, told the Christian Post.

Nadarkhani has been told by authorities to embrace Islam and renounce his faith in Christianity to have the charges dropped. But the young pastor has refused to do so.

"There are no assurances that he will not be executed," DeMars warned. "It could happen at any time. This is the way that the Iranian government operates with executions. They do not give advance notice and it is done in secret."

Nadarkhani has been held in the prison in Lakan since his arrest in October of 2009. His case has drawn international outrage from several notables, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, House Speaker John Boehner, and Rev. Franklin Graham.

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