, the Arab world and beyond Israel
July 26, 2010 | 8:41 am
It would take a legal genius on the order of human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafai to navigate the Kafkaesque legal system that recently condemned his client to death by stoning on charges that are still unclear.
But Mostafai himself has disappeared and his wife and brother-in-law are being "held hostage" by Iranian authorities, according to human rights organizations that monitor
"[Mostafai's] whereabouts are unknown right now, but we can confirm that his wife and his brother-in-law were detained on Saturday and are still in custody," Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, told Babylon & Beyond.
"The people who detained them have made it clear they will be held until [Mostafai] turns himself in, so in a way it is an act of hostage-taking because there is no judicial process being followed," he said.
Mostafai has made a name for himself taking on high-profile human rights cases in
Mostafai drummed up international support for Ashtiani by writing a blog about the case and giving a number of critical interviews to the Western press, including the Los Angeles Times.
Authorities, apparently upset at Mostafai's role in publicizing the case, summoned him for questioning late last week. Soon afterward, a warrant was issued for his arrest, but being unable to locate Mostafai, authorities instead arrested his wife, Fereshteh Halimi, and her brother, Farhad Halimi.
This isn't the first time Mostafai has run afoul of the government. Iran routinely monitors, harasses and arrests activist lawyers and their families, but the mechanisms for doing so are becoming increasingly opaque and harder to fight, according to Ghaemi.
"We are facing a chaos in
"Since the elections, we’ve seen a proliferation of agencies and units that have the power to detain and hold people, but there doesn’t seem to be any centralized control, and that is the biggest fear we have," he said. "We're seeing a trend of more and more detentions by groups acting autonomously."
– Meris Lutz in
Photo: Mohammad Mostafai is a human rights lawyer who has run afoul of authorities. His whereabouts are currently unknown. Credit: Iran Human Rights
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs