Iranian Lawyer Who Fled: ‘I Had The Right To Defend Sakineh Mohammadi’

WASHINGTON -- "I was the lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani and I had the right to defend her,” says Iranian lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei in his first interview after fleeing Iran. Mostafaei was defending Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery when Iranian officials jailed his wife, her brother, and his father-in-law in an attempt to pressure him to back down. In his first interview after fleeing Iran and surfacing in Turkey, Mostafaei talked to RFE/RL's Golnaz Esfandiari. He condemned the Iranian judiciary for taking his wife as “a hostage" and said he will never surrender to Iranian authorities. He also talked about the circumstances under which he was forced to escape Iran and leave his family, including his seven-year-old daughter, behind.

RFE/RL: What were the conditions that forced you to leave Iran and how did you end up in Turkey?

Mohammad Mostafaei: On July 24, I was summoned to the prosecutor’s bureau of Shahid Moghdas, which is at Evin prison. I went there at 9 a.m. and I was questioned for some three hours about my work. He finally told me, ‘You’re free to go.’ I left Evin and called my wife from somebody else’s phone -- since I didn’t have a phone with me -- and told her that my problem was solved and I was out. I had several meetings later, so at 5p.m. I went to my office. I was told that several people had [already] come to arrest me. I talked to my wife, who said someone had called from the pros... >>>

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