Iranian authorities released dissident Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from custody at Evin Prison and acquitted him of the charge of apostasy over the weekend. United States Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) welcomed the news but renewed his call on Iran to release all other political prisoners. Pastor Nadarkhani is a member of Senator Kirk's Iranian Dissident Awareness Program (IDAP), which is part of an international awareness campaign that serves to highlight the victims of human rights abuses under the current Iranian regime.
"Nadarkhani's wrongful three-year imprisonment was but one of many examples of the Iranian regime's brutality," said Senator Kirk. "While we welcome Nadarkhani's release, we must continue to advocate for those who have been persecuted for standing up for religious and political freedom within Iran. It is imperative that Iranian Government be held fully accountable for its gross violations of human rights."
In March, Senator Kirk joined Senator David Vitter (R-La.) as an original cosponsor of a resolution, S. Res. 385, which condemns the government of Iran for its continued persecution, imprisonment and sentencing of Pastor Nadarkhani for his religious beliefs. The House passed a similar resolution on March 1 by a 417-1 vote.
Senator Kirk released a video to highlight Pastor Nadarkhani's plight in June.