It is becoming clear that the prayers of Christians worldwide and the pressure of the international community is having an effect on the Iranian government. Yesterday, an Iranian judge issued a statement that was the biggest step back yet from the death sentence under which Pastor Yousef has been living. According to the International Business Times:

“Youssef Nadar-Khani [sic] has been charged with a crime and is in a prison based on an arrest warrant issued against him,” Gilan Province Judiciary Chief Mohammad-Javad Heshmati said on Wednesday, according to Iran state news agency Press TV.

“There has been no execution order. No conviction at all has been issued yet and it is up to the court to finally decide the verdict after studying his case,” he added.

This is in contrast to this statement from this past weekend:

“This individual is guilty and his crime is not attempting to convert others to Christianity, rather his crimes are of a security nature,” Ali Rezvani, Deputy Governor of Gilan Province, stated.

Clearly, if government officials of the same province can’t even agree on whether a verdict has been rendered, the government in Tehran is trying to decide what to do going forward. Certainly there’s no question of “law” involved here; this is a political decision, which means continued international outcry can make a tremendous difference.

Keep praying, and keep the heat on our own government to continue to press Iran to do the right thing.

Here’s the full item from Press TV:

“Youssef Nadar-Khani has been charged with a crime and is in a prison based on an arrest warrant issued against him,” Gilan Province Judiciary Chief Mohammad-Javad Heshmati said on Wednesday.

“There has been no execution order. No conviction at all has been issued yet and it is up to the court to finally decide the verdict after studying his case,” he added.

The official noted that further information will be released to the public “after the investigations and the court sessions are over.”

On Saturday, Deputy Governor of Gilan Province Ali Rezvani said Nadar-Khani is guilty of security charges and running a brothel but his verdict has not been finalized.

“This individual is guilty and his crime is not attempting to convert others to Christianity, rather his crimes are of a security nature,” he stated.

Western media have manipulated the case of Nadar-Khani, a convicted rapist and extortionist in Gilan Province, to wage an anti-Iran publicity campaign by falsely claiming that his criminal conviction his conversion to Christianity and acting as a ‘priest.’

Iran has firmly refuted Western allegations of violating human rights, insisting that Nadar-Khani has a history of committing violent crimes and that he has never received a death penalty for his religious preference.