Middle East

Lawyer in Iran stoning case asks for asylum in Norway

Mohammad Mostafaei in Oslo, 8 August
Image caption Mr Mostafaei fled initially to Turkey by car, horseback and on foot

Iranian lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, who has been defending a woman facing death by stoning in Iran, has sought asylum in Norway.

Mr Mostafaei said he had fled Iran last week fearing arrest, firstly reaching Turkey by car, horseback and on foot.

One of Mr Mostafaei's clients is Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

Her case has sparked international outrage and the sentence has been suspended pending a review.

'Heaven or hell'

Mr Mostafaei said he had been called in for questioning by the Iranian authorities and then told to return for more questioning.

When he failed to do so, he said the authorities jailed his wife Fereshteh and her brother to pressure him to return.

Image caption Ashtiani was sentenced to death for adultery

But Mr Mostafaei fled on 24 July, saying his wife would not have forgiven him if he had turned himself in.

Mr Mostafaei said his wife had been freed on Saturday and he hoped she would join him in Norway.

Mr Mostafaei obtained a one-year Norwegian travel visa in Turkey.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere expressed satisfaction Mr Mostafaei had reached safety.

But he told Reuters news agency: "We remain concerned and focused on the fate of other human rights defenders inside Iran, and obviously their clients."

Mr Mostafaei said he regretted leaving his clients behind.

"I've lost the ability to work on behalf of my clients. That means I've lost everything. Without that, it doesn't matter whether I'm in heaven or hell."

Ashtiani's death sentence has been temporarily halted by judiciary head Sadeq Larijani.

However, she may still be executed by hanging.

More on this story

Around the BBC

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites