By Golnaz Esfandiari, RFE/RL
Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi
has said that a human
rights lawyer who fled Iran last month, charging that officials were harassing
him for his vigorous defense of a woman sentenced to death by stoning for
adultery, is accused of "financial fraud."
Mohammad Mostafaei defended Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose case has garnered international attention and whose sentence has been indefinitely suspended.
"This lawyer had been under prosecution for a long time," Dowlatabadi said, "that's why he ran away to foreign countries."
In an recent RFE/RL interview, Mostafaei said he fled Iran after officials detained close relatives, including his wife. Mostafaei told RFE/RL that he had been questioned over his work -- including his defense of juvenile offenders on death row -- and a bank account that he says he set up to help pay blood money to their victims' families.
In an interview today, Mostafaei rejected the accusation by the prosecutor and said that opening an account for charity purposes is not a crime.
Amnesty International spokesman Drewery Dyke has called the exile of Mostafaei a blow
to human rights in Iran.
In recent years, a number of lawyers defending sensitive cases have come under pressure by Iranian judicial authorities.
Dowlatabadi on August 10 accused "counterrevolutionary websites" of having launched a "psychological war" against the Iranian judicial system by publishing what he described as false news and rumors.
"For example," Dowlatabadi said, "a prisoner was quoted saying that he had been 'dishonored,' but after an investigation the individual said the [allegation] was not true."
He was apparently referring to the case of jailed journalist Abdolareza Tajik, who reportedly told his sister that he had been "dishonored" in prison in the presence of a deputy prosecutor.
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