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Hague pleads for Iran pastor's life

Foreign Secretary William Hague has urged Iran to spare the life of a pastor reportedly facing execution for refusing to recant his Christian faith and return to Islam.

Youcef Nadarkhani, 34, a member of the Protestant evangelical Church of Iran, was arrested in 2009 for apostasy and he was sentenced to death last year.

The father of two held services in "home churches" in Rasht, a town about 150 miles north west of Tehran.

Reports suggest that an Iranian court gave Pastor Nadarkhani a third chance to avoid hanging, but he replied: "I am resolute in my faith and Christianity and have no wish to recant."

Mr Hague called for the Iranian regime to overturn Pastor Nadarkhani's sentence, adding: "I deplore reports that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Church leader, could be executed imminently after refusing an order by the Supreme Court of Iran to recant his faith.

"This demonstrates the Iranian regime's continued unwillingness to abide by its constitutional and international obligations to respect religious freedom.

"I pay tribute to the courage shown by Pastor Nadarkhani who has no case to answer and call on the Iranian authorities to overturn his sentence."

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