Tehran, Iran, Jan 2, 2013 / 18:15 pm
A Christian pastor who spent nearly three years in an Iranian prison for his religious conversion was reportedly arrested again on Christmas Day, contrary to a previous agreement.
"Iran has historically cracked down on the Christian community over the Christmas season; this year was no exception," said Tiffany Barrans, international legal director at the American Center for Law and Justice, which has been monitoring the case of Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani.
Barrans told CNA on Jan. 2 that through the timing of the arrest, "the barbaric regime wanted to send a strong message that no Christian is beyond reach of its persecution."
Nadarkhani was initially arrested in 2009 after complaining to local authorities about his son being forced to read the Quran at school.
As a convert, the 35-year-old pastor was found guilty of abandoning Islam, the faith of his ancestors, and ordered to recant or face execution. However, he refused to renounce his Christian beliefs, despite numerous threats.