MASHHAD, Iran - Seven lawyers representing young Iranians being held for protesting the recent presidential election have been killed, The Jerusalem Post reported on Friday.
According to anonymous Iranian sources who spoke with the Post by telephone, the killings took place in two cities - Tabriz and Mashhad.
The bodies of five of the lawyers, who were representing many of the young Iranians imprisoned by the government, were delivered to their families in Tabriz earlier in the week.
According to the sources, some family members were sentenced to three-year prison terms for "disrupting security" and "encouraging unethical actions" against the Iranian regime.
Three of the attorneys had been beaten to death, their swollen faces barely recognizable by their families.
The other two lawyers, who were well known in the community, were executed for alleged drug possesion.
"These men did everything they could to help those people who had been wrongfully detained," one source told the Post. "The two more prominent figures were made an example by the regime; hence the drug charges. They were both good Muslims and they were framed by the regime's local authorities," the source said.
In Mashhad, two other lawyers, both of whom had been representing student protestors, were hanged on trumped-up changes of drug trafficking, the sources told the Post.
"Why would lawyers traffic in opium? It doesn't make any sense. The government is targeting lawyers and as a result, many have stopped representing protestors," one source said.
One Tehran-based attorney was able to secure the release of his brother-in-law, who also practices law in Mashhad.
"I was able to get him out," the attorney said, "but I am not proud of how I did so. I am sorry to say that I had to turn over all of my files and cases. In addition, I had to sign an agreement not to take on any further cases [of protesters] in the future," he said.
This attorney said his well-being was a byproduct of his uncle's loyalty to the regime.
"After the revolution in 1979, he gave away most of his money to organizations supported and endorsed by [Ayatollah] Ali Khamenei," he said.
Nonetheless, if he ever agreed in the future to represent any of the protestors, "even I would be out of my uncle's reach. I need to be very careful," he said.
"Just last week, a lawyer friend of mine disappeared. His family does not know his whereabouts. I don't think it is a coincidence that he also represented some of those who were detained during the rallies," he said.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs qualified a statement he'd made at a Tuesday press conference.
Gibbs had been asked if the White House considered Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the legitimate president of Iran, to which he responded, "He's the elected leader."
On Wednesday, he told reporters aboard Air Force One that he wanted to "correct a little bit of what I said yesterday. I denoted that Mr. Ahmadinejad was the elected leader of Iran. I would say it's not for me to pass judgement on [that].
"He's been inaugurated, that's a fact. Whether the election was fair, obviously the Iranian people still have questions about that and we'll let them decide that. I would simply say he's been inaugurated and we know that is simply a fact," the White House spokesman said.
"It's not for me or for us to denote his legitimacy, expect to acknowledge the fact," Gibbs concluded.
Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Politics Daily