A Church of Iran pastor who was acquitted of apostasy in 2012 has been charged with "acting against national security" in Iran, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

CSW said sources have told the UK-based religious freedom advocacy that Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was summoned to a court in Rasht on 24th July where he was charged and released but given a week to raise about $US33,000 in bail or face arrest. CSW said he was also accused of being a Zionist and informed he had no right to evangelise.

The news comes after the pastor and his wife were among a group of Christians arrested when Iranian security services raided a series of homes in May. While they were released immediately, three other members of their congregation - named as Mohammadreza Omidi (Youhan), Yasser Mossayebzadeh and Saheb Fadaie - were detained and only released after posting bail. CSW says they have yet to be informed of the charges against them. 

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of CSW, said it was "troubling" to hear of the "renewed harassment" of the pastor. 

"The national security charges levelled against him are spurious and an indication that the authorities persist in criminalising the Christian community for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief, he said.

He urged the Iranian Government to dismiss the charges against them and any pending charges against the three others members of their congregation.

"The international community must press the Government of Iran to uphold its obligations to respect the right of its citizens to freedom of religion or belief, as outlined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which it is signatory, and in Iran’s own constitution.”

Pastor Nadarkhani was first arrested in 2009 after he questioned the Muslim monopoly on religious educations in his childrens' school. Charged with apostasy, he was sentenced to death in 2010 but in September, 2012 was released after he was acquitted of apostasy but found guilty of evangelising. He was recalled to prison in December that year to serve the remainder of a three year sentence but freed again almost a year later.

~www.csw.org.uk