The deputy of Iran's judiciary in legal affairs has insisted that defense attorneys should respect the "public's rights" and avoid defending those accused of "espionage".
Iran often makes unsubstantiated accusations of espionage against activists or critics in order to justify their prosecution and bring about longer prison sentences.
Speaking on Thursday, August 1 in the Western city of Hamadan, the mid-ranking cleric, Mohammad Mossaddeq, warned attorneys, "If a lawyer accepted to defend a person accused of espionage, they should be reminded that, by doing so, they would ignore the rights of 80 million Iranians."
Meanwhile, Mossaddeq asserted that universities should define the word "freedom", adding, "The [Iranian] regime is not against freedom, but the correct meaning of freedom should be presented to society."
However, calling on lawyers to avoid defending people accused of so-called political and security crimes is in stark contrast with Iran's constitution, which stipulates that anybody charged with a crime has the right of access to an attorney and legal counsel.
Nevertheless, during the first years of the establishment of the mullah regime, many Sharia (Islamic law) judges, including the mid-ranking cleric directly appointed by the founder of the nascent regime, Sadegh Khalkhali, believed that only those who had a full speech impediment had the right to employ an attorney.
Khalkhali, renowned as the "hanging judge", issued death penalties for hundreds of the previous regime's officials, without allowing them to have access to a lawyer.