Iranian Pastor's Execution: Supreme Leader Continues Silence on Death Row Ruling

Ayatolla Khamenei Has 20 Days to Determine Pastor's Fate

The international public continues to await the opinion of supreme leader Ayatolla Ali Khamenei concerning the execution case of Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani.

As of Oct. 13, it was predicted that Khamenei would make his decision within 20 days.

Nadarkhani’s defense lawyer, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, argued 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 would imply that Khamenei has made his decision.

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Dadkhah told the American Center for Law and Justice that although he believed the leader would respond within 20 days, there was no precedent or requirement to indicate exactly when the supreme leader would provide his opinion.

“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 Khamenei 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 adhering to 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 Voice of the Martyrs, told CP.

Dadkhak has called on the United Nations and the pope to apply pressure on Iran for the pastor’s release.

Last week, 89 members of Congress sent a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, requesting her involvement.

“Our real goal is to keep his case in the spotlight,” Sekulow said.

The ACLJ contends that it is international pressure that is keeping the pastor alive, with leaders such as Speaker of the House John Boehner and Governors Mitt Romney and Rick Perry all expressing their concern for the trial.

Romney described Nadarkhani’s verdict of execution as “an unacceptable outrage against human dignity.”

Perry called upon the United Nations and U.S. President Barack Obama to “work toward securing the release of Pastor Nadarkhani.”

Last week, 200,000 Americans signed a petition urging Iran to free the Christian father of two.

The ACLJ is now attempting to persuade the Russian government to get involved by pressuring the Iranian government to release Nadarkhani.

Nadarkhani, a Christian pastor, was originally arrested for protesting in October 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 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.

Sekulow also assured CP 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.

International pressure has pushed the Iranian court to confirm that Nadarkhani is currently alive awaiting his verdict.

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