Iranian pastor's attorney headed to prison

TEHRAN (BP) -- Iranian pastor Yousef Nadarkhani's attorney -- called by many a hero for his representation of religious minorities -- has been convicted and could begin serving a nine-year sentence soon in a development that will leave Nadarkhani without a lawyer.

Like Nadarkhani's conviction, the case of attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhah also is controversial. Dadkhah said he was convicted of acting against national security, spreading propaganda and keeping banned books at home, according to the Guardian newspaper in the U.K.

Dadkhah has represented Nadarkhani, who was sentenced to death in 2010 for converting from Islam to Christianity in a case that began in 2009. Nadarkhani's first name also can be spelled "Youcef."

"This development only reinforces the fact that Iran has no regard for basic human rights," Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), said in a statement. "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."

It's possible that no attorney will step up and represent Nadarkhani. Dadkhah previously told the ACLJ that if he himself was placed in jail, "no attorney would be willing" to take Nadarkhani's case out of fear of "being imprisoned or disbarred" for representing the Christian pastor. Dadkhah represented 12 Christians in Iran in April who had been charged with several crimes, including apostasy -- that is, leaving Islam.

Sekulow called Dadkhah a "world-renowned Muslim human rights attorney."


Compiled by Michael Foust, associate editor of Baptist Press.

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