Word that the lawyer who has been representing a Christian pastor condemned to death in Iran for leaving Islam is now facing jail is a stunning setback to hopes that the Islamic republic would begin recognizing human rights, according to an advocacy organization in the United States.
“The news that this renowned human rights attorney has been sentenced to prison by Iranian officials is very troubling,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice.
“This development only reinforces the fact that Iran has no regard for basic human rights. It also raises further concern about the fate of Pastor Youcef. With his attorney facing nine years in prison, and no other lawyer likely to take the case, Pastor Youcef has no legal advocate, which places him at greater risk.”
He was referring to Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been imprisoned for several years already. He had been represented by attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, who now has been sent behind bars.
Dadkhah said in a report in the United Kingdom that Iranian officials told him he had been convicted of acting against national security and spreading propaganda against the regime.
The news comes as pressure intensifies internationally for Iran to release Youcef, who faces a death sentence for embracing Christianity.
The ACLJ said the pastor has been imprisoned now for more than 930 days.
The ACLJ launched a global Twitter campaign on behalf of Pastor Youcef and announced that the Tweet for Youcef campaign now reaches more than two million Twitter accounts worldwide. Pastor Youcef’s story has reached every continent and subcontinent, including more than 93 percent of the world’s United Nations member states.
In a report in the UK’s Guardian, Dadkhah explained in addition to the 32-year-old Nadarkhani, he also has represented other political and human rights activists in Iran.
“I was in a court in Tehran defending one of my clients, Davoud Arjangi, a jailed political activist on death row, when the judge told me that my own sentence has been approved and I will be shortly summoned to jail to serve the nine-year sentence,” he said in the telephone interview with the Guardian.
The report said Dadkhah was associated with Iran’s Defenders of Human Rights Centre, a rights organization.
Sekulow said earlier that the world is watching for what Iran will do to the pastor, who had been separated from his wife and young children for several years.
The ACLJ’s Twitter campaign on the pastor’s behalf is at: http://aclj.org/Nadarkhani.
Nadakhani was arrested and convicted of apostasy in 2009 for allegedly leaving Islam, a charge he denied by explaining that he was never a Muslim.
But as WND reported, Nadarkhani’s Christian background isn’t enough, according to Islamic doctrine. Islam teaches that everyone on earth is born a Muslim
In the introduction of a copy of the Quran, published by Ansariyan Publications in Iran, it is “the parents who make him a Jew, Christian or Hindu.”
Therefore, even if Nadarkhani had never visited a mosque, when he became a Christian he left the Muslim faith whether he knew it or not, officials explained.