• Germany's news in English

Germans held in Iran accused of espionage

The Local · 16 Nov 2010, 14:51

Published: 16 Nov 2010 11:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Nov 2010 14:51 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"These two Germans came to Iran claiming to be tourists," said Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the justice department chief of East Azerbaijan province in the northwest of the country, quoted by Fars news agency.

"But the work of these two tourists in Iran and Tabriz and the way they reported in Tabriz shows that they came for espionage," he said.

"In fact these two came here for espionage and, thank God, they were identified and arrested ... The evidence for espionage was in their hands when arrested and they were planning a smear campaign against the Islamic Republic."

Sharifi said "the crime of espionage for the two Germans who came to Iran to make smear campaign and for espionage has been proved."

On Monday, Iranian state-run television showed blurred footage of the two German men "confessing" that they had been "tricked" into coming to Iran. According to the Farsi voiceover of the footage, the two detainees pointed fingers at Mina Ahadi, an Iranian human rights activist living in exile in Germany.

Ahadi, founder of the Germany-based International Committees against Execution and Stoning, has launched a global campaign to halt the impending execution of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani by stoning.

"I did not have any information about this case, but Ms Ahadi knew about it. She sent me to Iran and has gained propaganda value from my arrest. I will sue Ms Ahadi when I am back in Germany," one of the detainees was quoted as saying.

"I accept that I made a mistake. Since I had no information on the case, I was tricked by Ms Ahadi," the other German was quoted as saying.

But Ahadi on Tuesday rejected the accusations, telling news agency AFP: "I did not send them to Iran. I spoke to them about the risks and helped them make contacts."

"I do not think the journalists were mistreated physically. That's what I suspect. But they were certainly under psychological pressure," she said. "They have been in prison for a month ... no contact with their family, no phone contact, only once have German diplomats visited these journalists. They are under pressure."

The two Germans, who were arrested in Tabriz on October 10, have not been identified. It was unclear where the footage, in which the two men were shown close-up and looking healthy, had been shot.

The television report said the pair were arrested at the office of Mohammadi-Ashtiani's lawyer while trying to interview her son and after taking pictures of Tabriz prison, were the woman is held.

The Germans, who entered the country on tourist visas, reportedly work for the Axel Springer media group in Germany. Foreign reporters need special press visas to be able to work in Iran.

"We are following the news. But for the moment we have no specific information about it," the German Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, adding the detained Germans have had "intensive consular assistance."

Mohammadi-Ashtiani's case, revealed last summer by human rights associations, has triggered an international outcry. She was initially given death sentences by two different courts in Tabriz in separate trials in 2006. A sentence to hang for her involvement in the murder of her husband was commuted to a 10-year jail term by an appeals court in 2007.

Story continues below…

But a second sentence, to die by stoning on a charge of adultery levelled over several relationships, notably with the man convicted of her husband's murder, was upheld by a different appeals court the same year.

Iran's judiciary says a final decision is yet to be made about the case and that it is now focusing on the murder conviction of the mother of two rather than adultery charges.

"Her case is currently undergoing legal process in Tehran and if it is finalised and the order is given for the sentence to be carried out, the sentence will be carried out," Sharifi said.

"Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is currently being held in Tabriz prison and is in perfect health," said the justice official.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

12:27 November 16, 2010 by luckycusp
"woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery"

What age do we live in!! Still such barbaric acts from a nation thats supposed to be civilized. They need to get a grip of reality and use religion with some common sense.
13:13 November 16, 2010 by Jibzy
Before anyone goes on to the 'Islam is evil' sales pitch, I'd like to point out that most Iranians believe with the above post.
13:50 November 16, 2010 by Wabit
Belief is stronger than Truth. Yet truth will set you free from the limitations of Belief.

Iran still has to learn this simple truth although I fear it will take time which sadly will be of little help to the hundreds of people murdered by the Irananian fanatics that have forced their way into power and suppress even the very basic rights of the people.
13:57 November 16, 2010 by Jibzy
...the very basic rights of people.

The problem here is that most people are dangerously unaware of the conditions of countries caused by the western world, America in particular. The champion of human rights is one of the biggest human rights violators but gets away with it. Why? Because you're more like to hear stories that conform to your stereotypes via the media. Does anyone know the one country in the world that actually HAS used the nuclear bomb? Funny fact..that same country is forcing others not to use nuclear bombs.
14:22 November 16, 2010 by luckycusp
I know few Iranian people, and they insist that until Iran remains an Islamic state, nothing will change.
14:28 November 16, 2010 by ReaderX
WOW Jibzy, you are a moron!

I suppose by western world you mean the United States and of course by proxy George W Bush's fault, that these idiots stone women. Of course it can't have anything to do with the fact that they are Muslim and this is a part of their religion. It happens and has happened in many countries where Islam is the major religion.

Further these idiots and their barbaric inhumane treatment of their people, has nothing to do with the western world nor the illicit use of nukes. I mean this is the same country that claimed $god was causing earth quakes due to women's breasts, the same country that has claimed the holocaust was a hoax, Jews and Israel should be wiped off of the face of the earth.

Get over yourself, you are not as important as you may believe and stop using some idiotic liberal talking points on the internet, as though they were fact.
15:26 November 16, 2010 by Nathaniel
Sounds like a good excuse for an invasion of Iran to me
16:10 November 16, 2010 by Jibzy

Laughable and pathetic. You've scored low on being a sane debator AND understanding anything in the post.

I did not claim that the US is the reason why they are stoning women so please read that again before coming out like an idiot to the world.

Such brutality was a part of Islam but is not practiced. Just like witch burning was in Europe, slavery was in the US and Satti was in Dharm.

And for idiots like you, i want to spend my time to clear out that STONING isnt the only thing that is brutal. So is war, carpet bombing, napalm bombing and Nuclear bombing. All of which are active tools of US foreign policy.

You talk about illicit use of nukes. Can you please tell me the justified use of nukes? I'd like to be enlightened like you..or at least a puff of what you're smoking.

> ...the same country that claimed $god was causing earth quakes due to women's breasts

Just like the pope said that condoms spread AIDS?

>.. the same country that has claimed the holocaust was a hoax,

No one claimed that and you're an dumb idiot to think this. They do claim that Israel is banking on the holocaust..which is even claimed by a son of the victim of holocaust. (Dr. Finkelstein)

>Jews and Israel should be wiped off of the face of the earth.

They never claimed that either. They mentioned Zionism will be wiped from the pages of history.. just like Al-Qaeda should be wiped from the pages of history.

hahaha.. liberal talking points. I'm glad the US has people like you making its downfall come closer and closer. Great stuff. Keep it comin.
16:26 November 16, 2010 by tallady
Pesons traveling to an Islamic Republic like Iran do so at their own peril.
16:38 November 16, 2010 by kreese
Oklahoma passes an amendment banning any form of sharia law. CAIR, files suit in federal to ban the law, with the judge agreeing with CAIR.

If these people want to practice their stone age culture, religion, or whatever, move to another country. America has no walls to prevent their departure.
16:48 November 16, 2010 by Jibzy
HEY..if you dont like America.. you can git outttttttt...
17:20 November 16, 2010 by FreeIran!
All "real" iranians/persians hate their studpid and evil regime, the people of iran want freedom and democracy but they just cant find a way to get it yet, they try, but get killed and put into prison. I just wanted to point that out so you dont think all iranians think like their idiot hardline government.

I hope in some ways that Germany or an other country could help the iranian people to democracy so they could get out of all these stupid problems/conflicts..

Free Iran!
18:58 November 16, 2010 by duckys
I would "Dare" the local to have an interview with an Iranian that has moved out of that Iran and see what there opinions are about how protests are staged and only made by college students who are forced to complete the protest...

I think it would be a very eye opening experience to understand of what "Real" hardships the normal Iranian goes through everyday and how much it is very similar to the living conditions in China...(only much hotter!)...

It is very frustrating to see the press fall into traps that are setup by crazy governments such as Iran...

It is a shame that people are not as free as they wish to be!!!!!!

23:17 November 16, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, I agree with tallady. And we all know what happend to those 3 American hikers. Sure, as humans we are drawn to unusual things. But if the exotic is waiting to harm you, then it's no good.

It's unfortunate to see one country causing so many problems.

I'm sure most rational people hope that at some point the Iranian government will stop and realize that a confrontation with Israel is unwise.
11:36 November 19, 2010 by mixxim
Those who believe that the ability to leave a country is the measure of a governments popularity are wrongly under the impression that those who stay are in accordance with what their leaders say. Conversely all those living in Germany support Merkel, all in the US love Obama and those not trying to flee Iran are fundamentalists? - WRONG!
20:48 November 19, 2010 by surj
#14 Logic Guy, " I'm sure most rational people hope that at some point Iranian Govt will stop and realize that a confrontation with Israel is unwise" I wish that would be the case ,But that will NEVER happen, This is from muslim's Quran Sura 5:51 " Believers ,take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends and protectors ,for they are friends and protectors of one another.Whoever of you seeks their friendship and supports them shall become one of their number. Allah does not guide the wrong doers." Quran is full of hate towards Jews and Christians. No way muslims are going to stop that now. Muslims right form the childhood are taught to hate others/non-believers. www.thereligionofpeace.com and www.danielpipes.org
Today's headlines
Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German town, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

Israel seeks to buy three new German submarines: report
A Dolphin class submarine. Photo: DPA

Israel is seeking to buy three more advanced submarines from Germany at a combined price of €1.2 billion, an Israeli newspaper reported Friday.

Here’s where people live the longest in Germany
Photo: DPA

Germans down south seem to know the secret to a long life.

More Germans identify as LGBT than in rest of Europe
Photo: DPA

The percentage of the German population which identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is higher than anywhere else in Europe, according to a new study.

'Reichsbürger' pair attack police in Saxony-Anhalt
File photo: DPA.

A "Reichsbürger" and his wife attacked police officers on Thursday, just a day after another Reichsbürger fatally shot an officer in Bavaria.

Five things not to miss at the Frankfurt Book Fair
Photo: DPA

From consulting a book doctor to immersing yourself in an author's world with the help of virtual reality, here are five things not to miss at this week's Frankfurt Book Fair, the world's largest publishing event.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd