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Germany, EU demand Iran to free pastor Nadarkhani

Germany, one of the few countries with diplomatic ties with Iran, has asked Iran to stay the execution of a pastor who refused to re-convert to Islam.

German diplomat Boris Ruge has summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires in Berlin on Thursday and demanded the death penalty on Youssef Nadarkhani be lifted and he should be freed.

“In light of the relevant human rights agreements, the death penalty must be lifted against Youssef Nadarkhani,” the German foreign ministry said in a written statement after the meeting.

“Under international law Iran must respect religious minorities and respect freedom of religion.”

Nadarkhani, though born Muslim, converted to Christianity a decade ago and became a pastor of a small evangelical community called the Church of Iran when he was 19.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton too echoed Germany’s demand and urged Iran to free him after his arrest by Iranian authorities for apostasy in 2009. Later he was sentenced to death under Islamic Sharia law.

Though his sentence was spared by the supreme court in July, he was again condemned to death by a court in his home town of Gilan, reports said.

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