The American Center for Law and Justice's sources in Iran confirmed Saturday that Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is in fact alive, and rumors that he was to be executed over the weekend were false.
Photos surfaced on the Internet Saturday, allegedly showing a blindfolded Nadarkhani facing execution by hanging. These photos are outdated and false, the ACLJ reported Saturday.
Although Nadarkhani is still alive, the ACLJ does still believe that Iranian courts have issued an execution order. In the past, Iran has not informed the public of an execution, oftentimes dropping the prisoner's executed body on the family's doorstep.
Persecution organizations continue to push the importance of international pressure on Iran in helping to secure Nadarkhani's release, ascertaining that international pressure has helped keep the pastor alive.
Over the past two weeks, the United States has taken an assertive stance on Nadarkhani's case. On Feb. 23, both the White House and the U.S. Department of State issued statements urging the evangelical Christian's immediate release.
On March 1, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a three-page resolution titled H. Res. 556, which declared Iran to be in violation of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Political and Civil Rights, and the Iranian constitution.
Other persecution watchdog organizations, including The Voice of the Martyrs, Present Truth Ministries, Open Doors USA, and International Christian Concern have all openly condemned Iran, shedding a crucial light on Nadarkhani's plight.
"[O]ne thing is certain: international pressure has played an integral role in keeping Nadarkhani alive thus far," Aidan Clay, the International Christian Concern's Regional Manager for the Middle East, said in a statement on Feb. 24.
"Now is not the time to lose hope, but to remain ardent in prayer and to fight this injustice by raising as much awareness as possible. Most likely, the Iranian government will listen to nothing else but worldwide condemnation," Clay added.
Nadarkhani has remained imprisoned in Iran since Oct. 2009, when he was arrested for protesting the teaching of Islam at his children's public school. Since this arrest, Nadarkhani has been charged with apostasy and attempting to evangelize Muslims, and his case has been passed from the Gilan provence's local court to Iran's Supreme Court, and ultimately to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for review.
The international community, as well as Nadarkhani's family, await further information on the status of this execution order.