The Iranian government previously sentenced Dadkhah to nine years in prison for defending Pastor Nadarkhani, who Iran accused of apostasy. The government also forbid Dadkhah to practice or teach law for ten years, fined him $1,900 and gave him the choice of either five lashes or an additional $450 fine. But, the attorney settled an agreement that allowed him to continue representing Pastor Nadarkhani, preventing him from facing punishment.
However, Iran has now sentenced him once again. Dadkhah is currently serving with 22 others in ward 350 of Evin prison – a prison notorious for its ill treatment of prisoners.
In May 2011, Syrian authorities jailed Al Jazeera journalist Dorothy Parvaz in Evin after accusing her of spying. She shared chilling memories from her two week incarceration in an article for PBS.org,recalling, among other disturbing treatment, how she was blindfolded and subject to cruel interrogation. Parvaz stressed her experience was only one of several troubling tales.
“Ending up in Evin is every Iranian's nightmare,” Parvaz said. “Horror stories pouring out of Iranian prisons are in no shortage, and cases of torture and rapehave been reported by opposition and foreign media, as well as rights groups Dadkhah, along with Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran. His most well-known client, Pastor Nadarkhani, was sentenced to death for apostasy for questioning the Muslim religious instruction for children because he saw it as unconstitutional. In 2011, the Supreme Court said the charges would be dropped if he converted to Islam, but Pastor Nadarkhani refused.
Dadkhah continued to fight for Nadarkhani’s release and won it last month. Because the lawyer offers his services free of charge, the government often sees him as assisting his clients in their alleged crimes. Despite his treatment in Iran, Dadkhah has voiced his dedication to defending religious liberty.
My profession has allowed me to work for 30 years to defend human rights…I have always tried to perform my duties to the best of my abilities. The case file against me even stated that I did not charge students for my services. Is selling my service for free a crime?The American Center for Law and Justice, along with Amnesty International, is calling for Dadkhah’s immediate release.