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Foreign Minister Westerwelle calls for the release of Youcef Nadarkhani

03.03.2012

The following statement has been issued by a Federal Foreign Office spokesperson:

“At the instigation of Foreign Minister Westerwelle, the Iranian Ambassador was summoned to the Federal Foreign Office yesterday. The German Government wanted to inform the Iranian Government of its deep concern about the fate of Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and to call for his immediate release.

The Ambassador was reminded that Foreign Minister Westerwelle and the entire German Government saw the conviction and imprisonment of people because of their faith as incompatible with the fundamental principles of human rights and therefore as unacceptable. He was also told that Foreign Minister Westerwelle expected the trial against Youcef Nadarkhani to be stopped immediately and the pastor to be released at once.”

Background:
According to several independent reports, Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been sentenced to death for apostasy, is soon to be executed. Iranian judicial authorities are said to have issued an order to the central prison in Rasht to that effect.
In the autumn of 2010, Youcef Nadarkhani was sentenced to death for apostasy at first instance. In the appellate proceedings, this court of first instance was obliged to clarify whether Mr Nadarkhani had ever been a practising Muslim. This could not be proven. Nevertheless, the court of appeal ruled that he had to renounce Christianity in order to escape the death penalty.
By signing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Iran has undertaken to grant its citizens the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
On 29 September 2011 the Iranian envoy was summoned to the Federal Foreign Office to receive a protest against the death penalty against Youcef Nadarkhani.

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