Reykjavik fire threat asylum seeker released today

The Iranian asylum seeker who tried to catch himself alight two weeks ago at the Icelandic Red Cross HQ in Reykjavik, will be released from custody today. He faces a possible four-year prison sentence.

Two weeks ago today, Mehdi Kavyan Pour doused himself in petrol at the headquarters of the Icelandic Red Cross and threatened to set it on fire. He later described his action as a desperate cry for public attention to his long-running asylum application process. A court granted the police request to remand Pour in secure custody for two weeks in a hospital; which runs out today at 16.00. According to Reykjavik police, it is not considered necessary to keep him in longer, as he is not dangerous.

The case is still under police investigation. Once the investigation is complete, the case will be sent to the state prosecutor who will take the decision whether or not to prosecute. According to police sources it is likely that any charges brought against Pour would be under the law which bans putting the life or health of others in clear danger. The sentence for such a crime is up to four years in prison.

Pour has been battling to get an Icelandic residency permit for his political asylum claim for seven years. Friends say he has become increasingly desperate and the head of the Directorate of Immigration has admitted in the media that his case has dragged on too long.

Mehdi Kavyan Pour’s job in Iran was to bug fellow citizens’ phone calls. When secret information disappeared from his workplace, two of his colleagues died suspiciously. He decided to flee the country for his own safety. His wife and daughter are still in Tehran.

Iceland this week extended an offer of residency to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani — an Iranian woman currently in Iran, sentenced to be stoned to death for alleged adultery.