Foreign minister Össur Skarphéðinsson says he offered to grant political asylum to an Iranian woman who had been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. This he brought to light in speaking to parliament yesterday.
In a speech assessing Iceland’s foreign policy for members of parliament, Össur said that last fall, he had offered to meet with representatives from Iran and offered to grant political asylum to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
“It may please members of parliament to know that we have advocated more strongly in individual cases than before,” Össur said, “I also want to thank civilians for putting the pressure on me over the Iranian woman Ashtiani. On their behalf I brought up her death sentence at the United Nations, and asked for a dialogue with Iran over granting her asylum here.”
Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 and sentenced to death by stoning. The case gained global attention, and in September 2010, the Iranian government announced that her execution had been stayed indefinitely. She is currently still in prison.
The foreign minister’s statement comes at a time when the plight of asylum seekers has been gaining greater attention in Iceland. Medhi Kavyanpor – also from Iran – awaits any decision from the Icelandic government over whether or not he will be granted asylum in Iceland.