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Ashtiani 'under pressure,' say activists

The Local · 2 Jan 2011, 11:49

Published: 02 Jan 2011 11:49 GMT+01:00

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"I think she is being subjected to enormous pressure by the Islamic regime and has said that under pressure," said Mina Ahadi, an anti-stoning activist based in Germany who warned in November of the imminent execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, appeared in front of foreign media and judiciary officials on Saturday and said she has told her son to sue two German reporters who had interviewed him about her case.

"I have told Sajjad... to sue the ones who have disgraced me and the country," she said in the northwestern city of Tabriz where her trial took place.

Ashtiani named those she wants to sue as "the two Germans," her former lawyer Mohammad Mostafaie, her husband's convicted murderer Issa Taheri and Ahadi.

"I have a complaint against them," she told Iran-based foreign media at an appearance organised by judiciary officials at a government welfare organization guesthouse in Tabriz.

The two German journalists from Bild am Sonntag were arrested on October 10 in Tabriz for interviewing Ashtiani's son and family lawyer who were also taken into custody. The son was released last month.

Iran says the two Germans entered the country on tourist visas and failed to obtain the necessary accreditation for journalists from the authorities before "posing as reporters" when they contacted Mohammadi Ashtiani's family.

Ahadi, who reportedly arranged for the Germans to meet Mohammadi Ashtiani's son, told news agency AFP that she was "pleased that our operations against stoning are annoying the regime."

The deputy editor of Bild am Sonntag said he was "surprised and amazed" at Ashtiani's remarks about its reporters.

"We find it surprising that a woman sentenced to death in Iran could leave prison for a few hours to announce to the Western media that she wants charges against the journalists reporting on her case," Michael Backhaus said.

Ashtiani was sentenced to death by two different courts in Tabriz in separate trials in 2006.

Her 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.

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

Ashtiani, who was joined by her children on Saturday when she spoke to the media, did not make any plea for clemency, but her son Sajjad Ghaderzadeh pleaded for her execution to be stayed.

A hundred prominent Germans, including business leaders, ministers and top sports stars, on Sunday urged Iran to free the journalists.

Story continues below…

"The pair must be released and must return to Germany as soon as possible,"

said Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, told the Bild am Sonntag, who published the appeal.

"A state like Iran, which always calls for understanding, must not flout it in other areas," added Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

Other signatories included the heads of Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Telekom and BMW, footballer Philipp Lahm, Formula One star and seven-time former world champion Michael Schumacher and Nobel literature laureate Herta Mueller.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:04 January 2, 2011 by storymann
Surely,,if there was any chance of having my stoning sentence commuted I would say and do that.
17:58 January 2, 2011 by wxman
Looks like she played Religion Roulette and lost.
18:07 January 2, 2011 by raandy
Ya,,thats why this is an exception and news worthy ,,the stakes are to high for the average working stiff.
12:55 January 3, 2011 by ReaderX
I still don't understand why we are talking about this woman and the two journalists. I mean it's not like the a$$es that run the governments that also criticize these actions are going to do much about it. This is merely a plot by Iran to gain recognition on the world stage. This woman and the German journalists should be freed by force if necessary.
01:53 January 6, 2011 by fryintl
Freed by force? What ever happened to VOice of Freedom Radio? Why not bombard the Iranian wavelengths telling everyone what a ruin the Iranian government is, then, incite riots, unrest, and support a coup against the iranian regime. How tough can Ahmdenajad (spelling please) be if his face can be slapped in front of everyone by teh leader of the defense forces. Ther are great cracks appearig in the soladarity of the Iranian government. We must push into those cracks to make them bigger. Yo can't do that via simple TV reports or a story in a German Paper. It has to be done there where the people who can force a change can take advantage of the information.

Yes set the Germans free, but curse those whoo decide to live as slaves to an oppressive government. Die for your cause and change the government. IF you are not willing to free yourself, why should anyone else risk their lives to do so.

As for the journalists, they will be released. It may take time but they broke the law. You may have sympathy for them, but the IRanians have the right, as any sovereign nation does, to enforce their borders and laws. Just because you feel soemthing is just, it doesn't mean you can just go out and do it. Play with the rules of the system until you can change them.
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