Iran (MNN/ACLJ) — Another obstacle has been handed to imprisoned Iranian pastor Youcef Nardarkhani. According to reports, the Iranian government has acted against his attorney in the case.
Todd Nettleton with The
Voice of the Martyrs explains. "His attorney, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, has now been sentenced to nine years in an Iranian jail for apparently representing people like Pastor Youcef — people whose human rights have been violated."
American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which has been working to secure the release of Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, called Iran's decision to imprison Dadkhah "very troubling" — a move that puts the Christian pastor in greater danger.
In 2009, Pastor Youcef Nardarkhani, a leader in the Full Gospel "Church of Iran" network, was arrested and imprisoned after protesting a decision by the government requiring that his son study the Qur'an.
He was charged with apostasy, which carries a death sentence under the revised penal code. However, the court now says Nardarkhani is being executed for the trumped-up charges of rape and extortion,charges not mentioned during the original court proceedings.
Nettleton says this is bad news for Nardarkhani and other jailed Christians. "[Pastor Youcef] is going to have a hard time finding another attorney. When the government is locking up people who are representing him, you can imagine that any lawyer would think twice about taking his case."
While Nettleton is urging Christians to contact the Iranian embassy to complain about this, he says Iran doesn't listen — "particularly to Americans. Sometimes in cases dealing with Iran, our Canadian friends or sometimes our European friends can have a much stronger voice because Iran HAS relationships with their governments."
Despite the crackdown on Christians, the church is growing. "The Islamic government–which is run by the Mullahs–see the growth of the church. They see thousands of people leaving Islam to follow Jesus Christ, and they don't know how to respond; so their first thought is, 'Hey, let's lock up all these people.'"
Nettleton is urging you to pray that not only Nardarkhani will be released, but also his attorney. He's also asking you to support the work of The Voice of the Martrys. The ministry is coming alongside Christian families with relatives who are imprisoned for their faith.