New Trial Date Set for Condemned Iran Pastor Youcef

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The apostasy charges against jailed Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani may have been dropped, Present Truth Ministries reports.

The ministry said the house church pastor is now reportedly being charged with committing "crimes against national security," and that a new trial is set for September.

Experts say the move suggests that Nadarkhani's death sentence has been overturned.

"We assume by implication that this means the charges of apostasy have been dropped since the new charges have been issued, but we have no confirmation of that," Jason DeMars, director of the Present Truth Ministries, said Thursday.

But BosNewsLife reports that Iranian Christians and activists are worried the new trial is an attempt by Iranian leaders to make Nadarkhani's death sentence more palatable to the global community.

"The Iranian government is increasingly bringing charges against Christians on political grounds to mask the fact that, like Pastor Nadarkhani and Pastor Fathi Malayeri, they have been arrested and imprisoned solely on account of their faith," Andrew Johnston, advocacy director of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, told BosNewsLife.

Meanwhile, world leaders have been petitioning Iran for the pastor's release. His new trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 8.

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