Iranian pastor reported free after Christmas arrest

WASHINGTON (AP) — An Iranian pastor whose re-arrest on Christmas Day was condemned by two U.S. Congressmen is free again, according to the American Center for Law and Justice.

ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow (SEHK'-yoo-loh) says his group's Christian contacts in Iran report that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani (YOO'-sehf nah-dayr-KAH'-nee) was released today and is at home once again with his family.

Nadarkhani, who was raised in a Muslim family, spent almost three years in prison before his release in September. The ACLJ says he had faced a possible death sentence for refusing to renounce his Christian faith.

On Friday, Pennsylvania Congressman Joseph Pitts, who is Christian, and Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, a Muslim, issued a joint statement denouncing Nadarkhani's re-arrest and calling for his immediate release. They said that given Iran's "persecution of Pastor Youcef because of his Christian faith, it was particularly cruel to imprison him on Christmas Day."

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