Brazil Offers Asylum to Imprisoned Iranian Woman

Brazilian ambassador to Iran Antonio Luis Espinola Salgado submitted a formal request from the Brazilian Government to Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Monday offering asylum to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an imprisoned Iranian woman who faces execution for the crime of adultery, despite solid evidence that she is innocent. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva informally suggested asylum for Ashtiani in Brazil at the end of July.

Iran has yet to respond to the formal request regarding asylum. An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected the informal offer from President Lula in July.

Brazil and Iran have a long standing relationship with each other. According to CNN, Brazil has been active in talks surrounding Iran’s nuclear program and abstained from voting on tougher sanctions for the Islamic republic during the UN Security Council vote. According to RTT News, President Lula said that while he respects that Iran’s laws, if “my friendship and regard I have for the president of Iran and the Iranian people is worth something”, then Iran would allow Ashtiani to take asylum in Brazil.

Ashtiani expressed gratitude for Brazil’s offer and said she would gladly accept, according to her son, Sajjad Ashtiani, who has been actively campaigning for his mother’s release. Mina Ahadi, a spokesperson for the International Committee against Stoning, wrote a letter to President Lula that said his actions are an “important step” in achieving justice for Ashtiani.

This case began in 2006, when Ashtiani was convicted of having extramarital relations with two men who killed her husband, according to Huliq. While she initially received a sentence of 99 lashes for adultery, during an appeal of her case, the court sentenced Ashtiani to death by stoning. Her case has caused international outrage due to the inconclusive evidence presented and the barbaric nature of execution by stoning. The stoning sentence was commuted as a result of international pressure, but Ashtiani could still be executed by hanging. As a result of the high profile nature of the case, Ashtiani’s lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, is currently seeking political asylum in Oslo, Norway and faces a warrant for his arrest in Iran.


RTT News 8/10/10; CNN 8/10/10; Huliq 7/6/10; Feminist Newswire 7/6/10, 7/9/10. 8/10/10

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