The charge of apostasy from Islam lodged against Iranian Christian cleric Youcef Nadarkhani has been amended to allegations of rape, extortion and national security, CNN reported on Saturday. He still faces the death penalty.

Critics of Iran’s judiciary system view the altered charges as a manufactured tactic meant to blunt international criticism of the case targeting Nadarkhani because of his religious activities.

Nadarkhani is now confronted with the death penalty because of the new allegations, including that he is a “Zionist.”

“His crime is not, as some claim, converting others to Christianity. He is guilty of security-related crimes,” Gholomali Rezvani, the deputy governor of Gilan province, said, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

Nadarkhani “is a Zionist and has committed security-related crimes,” Rezvani said in a separate statement, CNN reported.

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