In this article you'll read an interview with Abbas Salmanpour, one of the attorneys of Yousef Nadarkhani, conducted by Mohabat News in which he describes Nadarkhani's current situation.
It's now about two years since Yousef Nadarkhani, one of the non-Trinitarian Christians, was arrested. His case has followed a very uneven way up to the present. First he was charged with apostasy and sentenced to death. The leaders of many different countries expressed their objections to this ruling. As a result of the international pressures, the Islamic regime of Iran stepped back from its initial position, annulled his death sentence and sent his case back to the local court in Gilan province for further investigation.
After sending the case back to the local court, the news media supported by the regime, accused Nadarkhani of some different crimes. Also the governor of Gilan said in a speech that Nadarkhani's crime was not apostasy but he had been jailed for several rapes and establishing brothels.
These things are being said now, although a record of Nadarkhani's apostasy verdict issued by the court in Gilan, was published over the internet some months ago. The complex and lengthy process of this case is a puzzle designed by Iran's judicial authorities, which they now appear unable to solve.
It's also said that the referral of Nadarkhani's case to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has made the resolution of the case more complex. What seems obvious is that a political decision is being developed in which the judicial authorities and Iranian political leaders may share responsibility.
A reporter from the Iranian Christian News Agency, Mohabat News, interviewed one of the attorneys of Yousef Nadarkhani by telephone and asked him about the latest developments on Nadarkhani's case.
You can hear the interview here (In Farsi) :
-Please inform us about the status of Nadarkhani's case at the moment?
- I should say that the case must be referred to the high court again.
- You mean the case will be sent back to the high court?
-Look, if the local court announces the second verdict and if we appeal, the case would be sent to the high court.
- How is Nadarkhani's situation in the prison right now? Is he allowed to visit and/or call his family?
Yes, as far as I know he has no problem in this regard. I mean, I asked him about this and fortunately he is in a good situation in prison. He is not under pressure or other such problems. The related branch of the court allows his family to visit him as much as possible. Fortunately there is no problem in this matter.
- Five of the Marja-e-Taghlids (literally meaning a source of guidance and reference) rejected the accusation of apostasy against Nadarkhani and now his case has been referred to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei. If he confirms the apostasy verdict for Nadarkhani, what would happen to his case?
The disagreement between lawyers and judges in this case is whether Nadarkhani meets the conditions to be called an apostate or not. The Marja-e-Taghlids do not reject an apostasy accusation in principle. Generally, they support such kind of accusation. But the discussion is whether Nadarkhani's activities would make him an apostate or not. If according to the facts of his case they recognize him as an apostate then according to the Islamic principles the apostasy penalty would be announced for him. And if not, he would not be treated as an apostate. The major problem is about this issue.
As you asked about the referral of his case to the office of the Supreme Leader, according to our leadership system, if the Supreme Leader decides on something, basically that decision should be implemented.
- Would the decision of the leader have more credibility than the other five Marja-e-Taghlid?
Since he is the Supreme Leader, according to the constitution, he is in a higher position than the other five. The Marja-e-Taghlids would make their comments but the Supreme Leader has the right to issue a final verdict. Such verdicts are binding. I think and I'm quite sure that the judges would implement this final verdict.
- It is said that in a trip to the province of Gilan, Mr. Eje'ei has rebuked the judges for sending the Nadarkhani case to the office of the Supreme Leader. Is this true?
I'm not sure about the accuracy of what you say here and so I can't comment on it. I can just add a point to your words and it is that if there were any rebukes, which I don't think there were, surely it would not take place in a way that everyone would know about it. I mean to say that this is most probably just a rumor.
-During recent months or even years, a large number of Christians were arrested and imprisoned by the security authorities. Even now some Christian converts are being held in prison. In your opinion, why has the accusation of apostasy only been mentioned in Nadarkhani's case?
What has made this case more sensitive is that it's believed that Nadarkhani has undertaken some actions to spread his beliefs. I mean the accusations that are mentioned in his indictment are of forming a house church and of spreading Christian beliefs to others. It is also claimed that he had been a Muslim and later converted to Christianity. These issues have made the case a bit more sensitive.
Of course my colleagues and I don't believe this. I believe that he won't be convicted of being an apostate. The very fact of being a Christian has not made the Nadarkhani case sensitive. He is not being convicted because of being a Christian. It's not like that. As far as we know, our Christian friends and neighbors continue living in peace and are free to practice their faith inside their churches. The accusations pointed towards Nadarkhani are of gathering in a house church, preaching Christianity to Muslims and deceiving them to leave their Islamic beliefs.
However, we are trying to prove the opposite and to prove that he has not done that. And even if any preaching was done among his fellow Christians, it cannot be seen as preaching against Islam. There is also a disagreement about this among the lawyers and judges. We hope that all these disagreements will come to an end and be resolved in some way. I also hope that with the tact of the judges in this case, they will conclude it in good order so that he can go back to his family and this case will finally come to an end.