Iran likely to reject Brazil asylum offer for woman given stoning sentence for adultery

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran signaled Tuesday it would likely reject the Brazilian president's offer to give refuge to an Iranian woman convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning.

The case of 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani triggered an international outcry that prompted Iran to at least temporarily withdraw the stoning part of her sentence. The mother of two could still be hanged, however.

"A far as we know, (Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula) da Silva is a very humane and emotional person who probably has not received enough information about the case," ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.

Further information would be provided to the president to clarify the situation about "an individual who is a convicted offender," he added. Iran says the woman has also been convicted of murder.

The outcry over the death sentence is one of the latest thorns in Iran's relationship with the international community, as the United States, Britain and international human rights groups have urged Tehran to stay the execution.

Silva said Saturday that Brazil could give her political asylum. Silva's government has built closer relations with Tehran in recent years and worked with Turkey to form a proposal aimed at resolving Iran's dispute with the West over its nuclear program.

Later Tuesday in reaction to the Iranian comment, Silva said, "I've learned as a head of state to respect the laws of all nations."

"If Iran is willing to discuss this matter, we would take great pleasure in talking about this woman's case," he Silva told reporters at an economic meeting in Argentina. But he added, "Each country has its laws, its religion and we have to, whether we agree with it or not, learn to respect that."

The U.S. and its allies accuse Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover for developing atomic weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying its program is intended for peaceful purposes such as electricity production.


Associated Press writer Debora Rey in Buenos Aires contributed to this report.