27 June 2012, 15:03
Iranian ayatollah promises Russian Church to solicit pardon for convicted pastor
Moscow, June 27, Interfax - Iran will probably pardon Protestant pastor Jusef Nadarkhani, sentenced to death for his recantation of Islam and coming to Christianity, Secretary General of the World Assembly for Proximity of the Islamic Schools of Thoughts Ayatollah Mohammad-Ali Taskhiri told Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Synodal Department for External Church Relations, in Moscow.
"We are aware that Nadarkhani's life depends on the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, who is to pass the final verdict," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia asked the Iranian spiritual leader in September 2011 to pardon the pastor, he said, adding the he himself had referred the same request to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"Ayatollah Taskhiri said in a reply, citing his sources, that the death sentence on the Iranian pastor had been overturned and assured Metropolitan Hilarion that after his return to Iran he would hand over the Russian Patriarch's request for the pastor's pardon to the office of the Iranian spiritual leader," the External Church Relations Department said on its website.
Taskhiri is the leader of an Iranian delegation that has arrived in Moscow to attend a meeting of the Russian-Iranian Commission for Orthodox-Islam dialogue.
The death sentence handed down to Nadarkhani on September 22, 2010, caused a global resonance. The death sentence was condemned by the White House. Notorious American Pastor Terry Jones burnt the Koran in protest against the arrest of his Iranian colleague.
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