The Obama administration says it is deeply worried that Iran may execute a Christian pastor.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner says the pastor, Youcef Nadarkhani, faces a death sentence for charges of apostasy and refusing to recant his Christian faith. He cited reports that a provincial court is renewing the execution order for Nadarkhani.
Toner said Thursday the U.S. was standing with religious and political leaders from around the world in condemning Nadarkhani's conviction. Washington is demanding his immediate release.
Toner said government persecution for following one's faith is common in Iran. He also warned about a dramatic increase in the arrest of Baha'i followers in Iran.