Iran issues arrest warrant against stoning case lawyer, arrests relatives

     Iran has issued an arrest warrant against Mohammad Mostafaei, one of its acclaimed lawyers, who is fighting the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning, and re-arrested his wife and brother-in-law in his absence. "It is ridiculous that they have taken Mostafaei's family as ransom, they have somehow taken them hostage. This confirms what Sakineh's son wrote in his public letter, that there's no justice in Iran," The Guardian quoted Mina Ahadi, a human rights activist for Iran Committee against Stoning (ICAS), based in Germany who spoke to Mostafaei after he was interrogated, as saying. "Mohammadi Ashtiani's sentence is not Mostafaei's first stoning case, he has defended many others against execution by stoning but it was Sakineh's story which took world attention and made the Iranian authorities angry," she added. On Saturday, Mohammad Mostafaei's office in Tehran was ransacked and he was interrogated at the Evin prison for four hours over his human rights activities and involvement in the case, but was released later in the day. He was again called back for further questioning before being set free. Authorities then issued an arrest warrant against him but when he could not be found, the authorities arrested his wife, Fereshteh Halimi and her brother Farhad Halimi to try to force him to surrender. However, it is still unclear whether Mostafaei has been arrested or he has managed to evade the officials, The Guardian reports. The case of 43-year-old Ashtiani, convicted of adultery, has drawn international attention since her children launched a campaign for her release almost a month ago. Earlier, Mostafaei volunteered to take up the case calling Ashtiani’s stoning sentence "a bogus conviction" and "absolutely illegal."

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