February 27, 2012
Yousef Nadarkhani, the Iranian Christian pastor sentenced to death for "apostasy" and leaving Islam, was confirmed alive as of Sunday, FOX News reports. Iran's government backtracked over the weekend, saying that no execution order had been issued for Pastor Nadarkhani, and that he was being held not for apostasy but for rape and "other crimes," according to the Islamic Republic's state-run TV. Nadarkhani's attorneys said they believed the government toned down its rhetoric in response to an international outcry, but said his execution order still remained in effect. Nadarkhani's family and friends fear he could be executed at any time; death sentences in Iran are sometimes carried out immediately and sometimes dragged out for years, and often occur in secret. Around the world, human rights organizations continue to fight and petition for Nadarkhani's release.