Attorney for freed Iranian pastor now in prison


TEHRAN — The Iranian lawyer who represented Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani in court, who was acquitted of apostasy and released from prison, is now in prison himself.

American Center for Law and Justice reported that Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, a human rights attorney who was convicted and sentenced to prison last year, had worked out a deal with Iranian authorities that allowed him to continue his work and stay out of prison.

He was detained September 29 and forced to begin his prison sentence at Tehran's Evin prison.

Dadkhah was convicted for his work defending human rights and sentenced to a nine-year prison sentence. He was also barred for 10 years from practicing or teaching law and given a choice of either five lashes or an additional $450 fine, according to the American Center for Law and Justice.

Dadkhah has defended numerous political and religious prisoners, including 12 Christians who were tried in April 2012 for their faith in Iran.

The human rights attorney provided legal services free of charge and the Iranian regime claimed that he was "aiding and abetting" in the alleged crimes of his clients.

"I have been convicted of acting against the national security, spreading propaganda against the regime and keeping banned books at home," Dadkhah told the Guardian.

Amnesty International stated that Dadkhah was tortured and ill-treated during his imprisonment there in 2009 for 74 days and is concerned about his safety.

Iran has been cracking down on attorneys who represent clients, like Pastor Nadarkhani, who Iran refers to as enemies of the state for their beliefs.

"Mohammad Ali Dadkhah is the fourth member of the CHRD to have been imprisoned in the last 18 months. He should never have been put on trial for his legitimate human rights activities — the Iranian authorities must overturn his conviction and sentence and release him immediately and unconditionally," said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at Amnesty International.

ACLJ is joining Amnesty International and other human rights organizations in calling for Dadkhah's immediate release.