Iran stoning case lawyer seeking asylum in Norway

Last Updated: Monday, August 9, 2010 - 00:08

Oslo: The lawyer defending a woman
sentenced to death by stoning in Iran said on Sunday that he has
applied for asylum in Norway, but hopes Iranian authorities
will allow him eventually to return to his practice.



Mohammad Mostafaei told reporters he chose to flee
to Norway after obtaining a one-year Norwegian travel visa. He
also cited the Nordic country`s prominent human rights
profile.



The 31-year-old said he fled to Turkey last week
after learning Iranian officials intended to arrest him. He
flew to Norway yesterday after being detained briefly in
Turkey over an undisclosed passport issue.

Mostafaei maintained a blog that sparked a
worldwide campaign to free his client, Sakineh Mohammadi
Ashtiani, who was convicted of adultery.



In July, Iranian authorities said they would not
carry out the stoning sentence for the time being, but the
mother of two could still face execution by hanging for her
conviction of adultery and other offenses.



While Mostafaei is applying for asylum, it`s
unclear whether he will stay in Norway. He said he hopes
international pressure will force Tehran to let him return to
his practice.



"My greatest hope is that I can go back and
continue my work in Iran. If the Iranian authorities will
ensure my rights and safety, I`ll go back," Mostafaei said
through an interpreter.

"Right now, I`ve lost the ability to work on the
behalf of my clients. That means I`ve lost everything. Without
that, it doesn`t matter whether I`m in heaven or hell."



Late last month, Mostafaei - an outspoken lawyer
who also has defended many juvenile offenders and political
prisoners - was summoned for questioning by judicial officials
at Tehran`s Evin prison, released after several hours, then
asked to return, which he failed to do.



The same day, his wife, Fereshteh Halimi, and her
brother, Farhad Halimi, were detained in a possible attempt to
pressure Mostafaei to surrender if he wasn`t already detained.



The lawyer said he considered turning himself in,
but ultimately decided against it because "my wife would never
forgive me."



Mostafaei said a friend drove him last week from
Tehran to Khoy, in northwestern Iran, about 32 kilometers from
the Turkish border. From there he made his way, by foot and on
horseback, into Turkey, he said.



Authorities released his wife yesterday afternoon,
Mostafaei said. He said he hoped she and their 7-year-old
daughter would join him in Norway soon. He acknowledged,
however, that "might take some time because the government may
try to prevent their departure."



PTI



First Published: Monday, August 9, 2010 - 00:08

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