Although the verdict of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani could be determined by Nov. 2, the decision remains in the complete authority of superior leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and can be announced at any time.
“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.
The Ayatollah’s supreme authority provides him with an infinite timeline to make his decision.
Although Nadarkhani’s defense lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah originally predicted the verdict would be revealed within 20 days, Tiffany Barrans of ACLJ contends that Khamenei remains elusive concerning the decision, and he is as likely to announce the verdict in two days as he is twenty more.
Many critics argue that the sooner Khamenei makes his decision, the better for Nadarkhani’s fate.
According to Sekulow, Iran’s court has a history of prolonging court cases in order to diffuse international attention.
“Our real goal is to keep his case in the spotlight,” he said.
Many argue that international pressure from the United States, Great Britain and France have kept Nadarkhani alive, as Iran debates over this controversial verdict.
One Middle Eastern analyst told the ACLJ that international pressure “may be the only reason [Nadarkhani is] still alive.”
The most recent update regarding the Christian pastor is that he had Islamic literature pushed upon him while awaiting his death sentence appeal verdict in Iranian prison, which could prove to be a method of entrapment if Nadarkhani responds negatively to the writings.
“It is no surprise that security agents, who answer directly to the Supreme Leader, would try to either do away with the case or provide an alternative justification for continued punishment,” contends the ACLJ.
Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor, was originally arrested for protesting in Oct. 2009. His charge was 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 Dec. 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 Iran’s Supreme Leader, Khamenei for review.
The local court lacks standing to sustain the potential backlash from either side. Therefore, the highly regarded Khameini has been given the sole responsibility for reviewing the decision.
“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 Voice of the Martyrs USA told CP.
According to the ACLJ, private reports confirm that Nadarkhani is “in good health, physically, emotionally, and spiritually” while he awaits Supreme Leader Khamenei's decision.