- (Photo: Courtesy of ACLJ.org)
Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s defense lawyer has predicted that the supreme leader Ayatolla Ali Khamenei will reveal his “opinion” concerning the pastor’s case within the next 20 days.
The defense lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah argues that although Khamenei is not obligated to reveal his decision to the public, lawyers, or the defendant’s family, any future action by the courts will imply that Khamenei has made his decision.
“The ayatollah can make any decision he wants. He controls the judiciary, who’s executed, who’s not executed, the military. The list goes on,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice, told The Christian Post.
“Next time [the court] takes real action we’ll know that the [Ayatollah] has made some kind of decision,” he added.
Sekulow also contended that Khamenei does not need to openly state his opinion, but rather can control the court from behind the scenes, putting the decision in their hands.
The courts, however, may find it difficult to stand up against the backlash caused by either the international community or the local Muslim community, depending on the verdict.
Therefore, the highly regarded Khameini has been given the sole responsibility for reviewing the decision.
While the international community pushes for freedom of religion in Iran, the local, radical Muslim community is on the other side of the spectrum, pushing for those not worshipping Islam to be punished to set an example to the rest of the public.
“My personal read on the situation is that nobody wants to own the decision. There’s pressure on both sides,” Todd Nettleton, Director of Media Development for the Voices of the Martyrs, told The Christian Post.
Dadkhak 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 U.N. and pressure Iran to free Pastor Youcef,” explained Sekulow.
“Our real goal is to keep his case in the spotlight,” Sekulow said.
Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor, was originally arrested for protesting in October 2009. His charge then changed to apostasy and attempting to evangelize 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 U.N. 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.
Last week the ACLJ sent a letter directly to the U.N. requesting action in the pastor’s court case.
The ACLJ delivered a petition signed by 156,000 Americans to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, hoping for her to support the pastor’s acquittal.
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 Oct. 11] with terror issues I think the Ayatollah is under even more pressure,” stated Sekulow.
International pressure has pushed Iranian court to confirm that Nadarkhani is currently alive awaiting his verdict.