Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's chances of avoiding death by stoning have improved greatly thanks to a surprise offer of asylum from Brazil's president. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's overture this weekend to the Iranian mother of two, who has been sentenced to death for adultery, prompted a serious reaction from Tehran, which views Brazil as a key ally, raising hope that Ashtiani's life will be spared.
Iranian authorities softened their tone with Ashtiani's children in the wake of Lula's offer, telling her son that her case would be dealt with this week. "It is very important that Brazil, as one of Iran's most significant allies in the world, has offered a haven for my mother," son Sajad told the Guardian. Iran had previously rebuffed all efforts by international human rights campaigners on Ashtiani's behalf. Lula's offer is an uncharacteristic move for him into the area of international human rights, adding to speculation that he wants to be the next UN secretary general.
(Read more Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani stories.)