Lawyer looks to UN and Pope to free Iranian pastor awaiting execution
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, defense lawyer for Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, has called on the United Nations and the Pope to apply pressure on Iran for the pastor’s release.
“Eighty-nine Members of Congress just sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Clinton urging her to engage the UN and pressure Iran to free Pastor Youcef,” explained Jordan Sekulow, executive director for the American Center for Law and Justice.
“Our real goal is to keep his case in the spotlight,” Sekulow told The Christian Post.
Nadarkhani’s case, which began in 2009, is currently being “reviewed” by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor, was originally arrested for protesting in October 2009. His charge then changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelise Muslims, for which he was found guilty in the local Gilan province court. He appealed his case in December 2010 to Iran’s Supreme Court. The case was then passed back down to the lower Gilan province court, which in turn passed it to Khamenei for review.
Countries have argued that Iran is in violation of its International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which allows freedom of religion and freedom to change one’s religion.
“The most unfortunate thing is that the UN is completely silent on this, which says a lot about where they are,” Sekulow told The Christian Post.
“I wish the secretary of state would get a little tougher,” he added.
This week the ACLJ sent a letter directly to the UN requesting action in the pastor’s court case.
Sekulow also assured The Christian Post that placing the case into the hands of Khamenei “is better for the pastor because the decision is not under the kind of pressure from clerics or military.”
“There’s no authority higher,” Sekulow added.
Sekulow contends that current events have also pushed Iran’s court to involve Khamenei, referencing the recent attempted bomb threat on the United States by the elite Iranian revolutionary group Quds.
“In light of what has happened in the United States [on Tuesday] with terror issues I think the Ayatollah is under even more pressure,” stated Sekulow.
Although Khamenei is not required to share his opinion with the public, any future move by Iranian court will signify that Khamanei has made his decision.
International pressure has pushed Iranian court to confirm that Nadarkhani is currently alive awaiting his verdict.