Lawyer Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, co-founder and spokesperson for the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), was sentenced by Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court on 3 July, to nine years in prison, a ten year ban from teaching in universities, a ten year ban from practicing as an attorney, $300 in fines, and five lashes. Dadkhah’s charges were, “cooperation in the soft overthrow of the regime,” “propaganda against the regime,” “interviews with some media outlets,” “distortion of members of the regime,” “dark portrayal of the state of cultural heritage,” and “compiling the book ‘Writing and Reporting'”, which was published by the DHRC.
Pointing out that the court’s verdict was not handed down to him according to the country’s legal procedure code, Dadkhah told the Campaign: “I went to the court on Sunday morning and I saw the verdict there. But, unfortunately, because they did not hand me the verdict, and because I only had permission to read the contents and take notes, I can’t remember some parts of the verdict. In addition to a ten year ban from teaching and practicing as a lawyer, I was sentenced to nine years in prison for my activities and being the spokesperson for the DHRC. I was also sentenced to one year in prison on the charge of propaganda against the regime, $300 cash fine for having a satellite dish, and 5 lashes for another charge that I can’t exactly remember, which was convertible to a cash fine. Also, there was another conviction that I do not remember.”
“I am glad that they did not sentence me to death by hanging, because it was possible that they might have decided on execution. You know, one must always think positively. In a part of my book, ‘Nowruz, the Philosophy of Being’, I promote positive thinking and for the same reason, I do not talk negatively about the verdict. And I thank God that I did not get a worse sentence than this. I am not at all worried about these sentences, because I have acted lawfully and in defense of my homeland, and it is natural for someone who takes a step in the direction of law and order to be treated badly by those who are against law and order,” Dadkhah continued.
“I do not know what I did wrong when I said the city subway must not run under Isfahan’s Si-o-se Pol, against all logic, science, and the law! Have I caused the destruction of cultural heritage for having said that the city subway will destroy the Si-o-se Pol, and that it will also affect Chahar Bagh School, Hasht Behesht Palace, and Isfahan Bazaar; or those who have launched the subway?! Am I the one who is causing damage to a national and historical monument because I asked why a dam is constructed in the vicinity of the Tomb of Cyrus, which has no equal in the world, or are those who took these actions? At least have some fairness and be just and impartial,” Dadkhah said in protest of his sentence.
“I have about 30 days to object to the verdict handed down by the lower court, and I hope to convince the appeals court with reasons that the lower court lacked the necessary judicial legitimacy when issuing the verdict,” continued Dadkhah.
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah is currently defending many student and political activists arrested following the disputed 2009 presidential elections. He is also representing dervishes from Gonabad in their court case regarding the destruction of their mosque. He was arrested on 8 July 2009 at his office following heightened pressure on lawyers. He was in prison for more that 60 days.