Iranian human rights lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, has sought asylum in Norway to flee a warrant for his arrest. The lawyer was defending Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, an Iranian woman who was convicted of adultery and originally sentenced to stoning in 2006, before he went missing at the end of July. At the time, it was unclear whether the authorities had him in custody or if he was in hiding. In the meantime, his wife and brother-in-law were arrested, reports The Media Line.
Jafar Dowlatabadi, Iran's state prosecutor, said that Mostafaei fled because he faces financial charges. The prosecutor did not comment on media coverage which reports that a warrant was issued for the attorney's arrest according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Mostafaei said that he feels his escape will channel more support to the Ashtiani case, which he was instrumental in publicizing worldwide. Thanks to the international attention, Ashtiani's stoning sentence was commuted. However, she may still be executed by hanging, but currently her execution is suspended. According to All Headline News, Mostafaei said, "I do not think she will be hurt... The Iranian authorities have already paid a huge price for the case (and) the international reputation of Iran has already been negatively affected because of the way it has been handled."
"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, according to the Associated Press. "Right now, I've lost the ability to work on the behalf of my clients." He also said that other lawyers are waiting to pick up Ashtiani's case.
Ashtiani recently broke her silence surrounding the case and told the Guardian, "for all these years, they [the officials] have tried to put something in my mind, to convince me that I'm an adulterous woman, an irresponsible mother, a criminal but with the international support, once again I'm finding myself, my innocent self."
Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 7/6/10, 7/12/10, 7/26/10; The Media Line 7/26/10; Deutsche Presse-Agentur 8/10/10; All Headline News 8/9/10; Associated Press 8/10/10; Guardian 8/6/10