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Saturday, October 1, 2011

State Media Reports Iranian Pastor Facing Execution for Rape, Not Religion

Iran state media put out a stunning report Saturday claiming that imprisoned Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is facing the death sentence for rape and extortion, not for apostasy and refusing to renounce his religion, as his lawyer, human rights groups and Western news media have reported.

"His crime is not, as some claim, converting others to Christianity," the deputy governor of the Gilan province, Gholomali Rezvani, told Fars, the semi-official state news agency.

"He is guilty of security-related crimes."

The Fars comments were part of a larger Iranian media push to counter reports that Nadarkhani was facing execution for refusing to recant his Christian faith.

“We’re trying to determine if this is the state-controlled media throwing it out there,” said Jordan Sekulow, Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

“There’s been no mention of any other charges than apostasy in trial documents.”

In a ruling from the Iranian Supreme Court, translated into English by the ACLJ, Nadarkhani was sentenced to execution by hanging for, “turning his back on Islam” and “converting Muslims to Christianity.”

The ruling also alleges that he also participated in Christian worship by holding home church services and baptizing himself and others, effectively breaking Islamic Law.

FoxNews.com obtained a copy of the ruling and there is not a single mention of rape or extortion allegations.

Fox News reported earlier this week that Nadarkhani, 32, who ran a group of house churches in Iran, was facing execution after being convicted last November of apostasy.

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