Family of Human Rights Lawyer Flees Iran
The wife and daughter of Iranian human rights lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, both arrived in Norway yesterday, where the family is seeking asylum. Mostafaei sought asylum in Norway in August after he fled a warrant for his arrest. At the time of his initial disappearance in July, it was unclear whether Iranian authorities had him in custody or if he was in hiding. After he disappeared, Mostafaei's wife, Fereshteh Halimi, her father, and brother were arrested and imprisoned in Iran's infamous Evin prison.
Prior to fleeing the country, Mostafaei was defending Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, an Iranian woman who was convicted of adultery and originally sentenced to stoning.
Halimi and the couple's daughter had obtained a multiple exit visa before the publicity of the Ashtiani case became widespread and used the visa and a round-trip ticket to Istanbul to exit the country. Prior to her escape, Halimi had been released from prison on bail and was facing charges that she had helped Mostafaei escape the country. According to the Australian, Halimi said she "thought it was 60 to 70 percent they would not let us come."
Mostafaei said that he feels his escape will channel more support to the Ashtiani case, which he was instrumental in publicizing worldwide. Thanks to international attention, Ashtiani's stoning sentence was commuted. Though her execution is currently suspended, it is possible she will still be executed by hanging. 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 told the Associated Press after he arrived in Norway. "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.
Media Resources: The Australian 9/4/10; Feminist Daily Newswire 8/10/10; All Headline News 8/9/10; Associated Press 8/10/10