The attorney for a jailed Iranian pastor has been sentenced to nine years in jail.
Mohammad Ali Dadkhah has been representing Christian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who has been 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, 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," Jordan Sekulow, executive director of ACLJ, said.
"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," he said.
The ACLJ reported that Iran has recently begun to crack down on attorneys who represent clients like Pastor Youcef, who Iran dubs as enemies of the state for their beliefs.
Dadkhah, a world-renown Muslim human rights attorney in Iran, has defended numerous political prisoners, included recently 12 Christians who were tried on Easter Sunday for their faith in the same Iranian provincial court that sentenced Pastor Youcef to execution.
Because he provides his legal services free of charge, the Iranian regime has asserted that he is "aiding and abetting" in the alleged crimes of his clients.
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.
The ACLJ confirmed that Pastor Youcef was still alive as of Wednesday, but the imprisonment of his attorney places him in grave danger of execution without any further appeal.
News of Dadkah's arrest came as international pressure grows calling for Pastor Youcef's release.
The ACLJ said it will continue to use all available means to fight for their freedom, including the Tweet for Youcef campaign, which is now reaching more than 2 million Twitter accounts each day.
The group will also continue to call on the U.S. Senate to pass a pending resolution calling for Pastor Youcef's release.
Sign the online petition urging more pressure on Iran to release Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani and dismiss his death sentence
The American Center for Law and Justice in Washington, D.C., has also started a Twitter campaign to spread the word about Nadarkani's case. @CBNNews has joined the effort. Learn how you can "Tweet for Youcef" here.