Iranian Lawyer in Stoning Case Seeks Asylum in Turkey

A prominent Iranian human-rights lawyer, Mohamad Mostafaei, has fled to Turkey and applied for asylum after Iranian authorities issued a warrant last week for his arrest and detained his wife and brother-in-law.

Mr. Mostafaei, reached by phone at a Turkish detention center on Thursday, says he hasn't been formally charged in Iran, and left because of what he describes as a "flawed judiciary that does not abide by any laws."

Mr. Mostafaei said he has filed an official request with the United Nations refugee agency and has had offers from several countries, including Canada and Norway, for resettlement. Turkey only accepts refugees from European countries.

"I love my country. I loved helping people and I didn't escape because I'm afraid of going to jail. I did it because I have no more belief or respect for Iran's judiciary," Mr. Mostafaei said.

Mr. Mostafaei, 35 years old, drew scrutiny from Iranian officials after using his legal blog and connections abroad to gain international attention for a recent client, a woman convicted on charges of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning.

The plight of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, sparked widespread condemnation of Iran's judiciary, even from such allies as Turkey and Brazil. Last week, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva offered to grant Ms. Ashtiani asylum, an offer Tehran rejected.

An online petition for Ms. Ashtiani's release had more than half a million signatures as of Thursday, with celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Peter Gabriel joining the effort. Last week, protesters around the world staged demonstrations calling on Iran to release her. The organized international pressure appears to be yielding results, human-rights groups say.

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