Lawyer: International pressure has not helped Iranian pastor’s case

Washington DC, USA - International pressure mounting in the apostasy trial of a Christian pastor in Iran has “not had any impact on the Iranian court,” the attorney for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani told CNN on Friday.

“They (the court) work on the evidence and Iranian law,” said lawyer Mohammad Dadkah. “I don’t think the statements from the United States has had any impact either on this case as this is all going through the Iranian justice system, which is based on the law and evidence.”

Nadarkhani's trial has become a cause célèbre for a number of Christian organizations in the United States and abroad. Many of these groups took to Facebook, Twitter and websites in an attempt to energize their followers to protest the pastor's treatment.

Nadarkhani is the leader of a network of Iranian house churches and was first charged with apostasy in 2010 for converting from Islam to Christianity. He was sentenced to death by hanging.

There has been a back-and-forth in the case in Iran, with the Supreme Court passing on the case in favor of a lower court's ruling. During that trial last month in Gilan province, Nadarkhani refused to recant his beliefs.

As for the current status of the case, Dadkah said a court in Rasht has asked for Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, to rule on whether Nadarkhani should be put to death.

“I expect an opinion for Khamenei in about a week or so when he returns to work,” Dadkah said. According to Dadkah, Khamenei is traveling.

The lawyer has not spoken with Nadarkhani for about a week. “Last I saw him, he was doing well both physically and spiritually and was strong,” he said.

For now, it is a waiting game for attorney and client, but Dadkah has promised not to give up.

“If he is not executed,” Dadkah said. “I will continue to fight for him through the courts so that he is released.”