An Iranian court has overturned the death sentence of popular mystic Mohammad Ali Taheri for a second time, according to his attorneys.
Taheri, 61, a popular and highly-revered teacher, was sentenced to death in August on charges of blasphemy and creating a cult.
Taheri’s lawyer, Mohammad Alizadeh Tabatabai, announced Monday that the latest death sentence has been annulled and the case had been referred to a branch of the country’s supreme court.
Rights groups, the U.N’s high commissioner and the U.S. State Department have expressed concern over Taheri’s death sentence.
Taheri, founder of a popular spiritual group called “Erfan-e Halgheh,” or “mysticism circle,” has been kept in solitary confinement in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison since May, 2011. Taheri, who taught popular spirituality and meditation classes, was originally given a 5-year sentence for insulting Islamic sanctities, an offense that does not carry the death penalty as it does not involve the deliberate insulting of the Prophet Mohammad.
In an exclusive interview with The Foreign Desk, Anita Ghanaei, a student of Taheri’s course said that the government wants to call him a cult leader because his teachings go against what they want us to hear.