The Romanian news agency Mediafax reports that an Iranian refugee who has been condemned to death for “apostasy” in Tehran has had his request for political asylum in Romania refused by the Romanian immigration office.

The Christian convert Habib Bastam was originally condemned to death by a Tehran court in 2009. The sentence appears to have been upheld in 2010 by the Islamic Revolutionary Court, after which, according to Mediafax, Bastam took refuge in Romania, while his wife and son remained in Iran.

The Mediafax report quotes the original 2009 Tehran court decision, which explains that Habib Bastam was born of Muslim parents and accepted Islam and its precepts as an adult, but

…later declared verbally and by his acts that he had renounced Islam, at the same time organizing evangelical meetings, calling also on others to embrace Christianity, creating a church at home, performing baptism ceremonies, preaching his faith in Christianity before assemblies of his neighbors, and denying the precepts of Islam.

The 2009 judgment notes further that the death penalty was being applied on the basis of a “decree adopted unanimously by experts in Islamic jurisprudence, Article 3 of the Procedural Code of the General and Revolutionary Courts, Article 205 of the Law on Islamic Punishments,” and a decree issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini and four other ayatollahs.

Citing information provided by a local Romanian human rights organization, the Human Rights & International Communication Office, Mediafax reports that a brother of Habib Bastam, Assadollah Masoud Bastam, received political asylum in the United Kingdom after having been himself condemned to death for apostasy by an Iranian court in 2001. Two other brothers and the parents of Habib and Assadollah Masoud Bastam are likewise reported to have sought asylum in the U.K. or the U.S.

According to Mediafax, Habib Bastam’s attorney, Antonie Popescu, is challenging the decision of the Romanian immigration office. Under European Union law, only the first EU country into which an asylum-seeker gains entry is responsible for accepting an application for asylum from the candidate. A Romanian refusal of Bastam’s application will thus restrict his ability to receive asylum throughout the EU.

John Rosenthal writes on European politics and transatlantic security issues. You can follow his work at or on Facebook.

Next Page