Prominent human rights advocate and attorney Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, who represents the Christian pastor sentenced to death in Iran in a case that sparked international condemnation, has reportedly been sentenced to nine years in jail for allegedly "acting against national security" in Iran.
Dadkhah has represented several political and human rights activists jailed since Iran's 2009 disputed elections, including Youcef Nadarkhani, the Iranian pastor charged with apostasy and sentenced to death for leaving Islam and converting to Christianity.
"I have been convicted of acting against the national security, spreading propaganda against the regime and keeping banned books at home," Dadkhah told the Guardian. Dadkhah has also reportedly been banned from teaching at universities or practicing law for 10 years.
The American Center for Law and Justice, or ACLJ, which has been working to secure the release of Nadarkhani, fears the decision to jail Dadkhah puts the Christian pastor at greater risk.
"The news that this renowned human rights attorney has been sentenced to prison by Iranian officials is very troubling," said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ. "With his attorney facing nine years in prison, and no other lawyer likely to take the case, Pastor Youcef has no legal advocate, which places him at greater risk."
Dadkhah was reportedly in court defending one of his clients when the judge announced his own nine-year sentence. He is expected to be jailed soon.
Dadkhah was also the attorney for 12 Christians who stood trial on Easter Sunday in Iran.