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German journalists freed by Iran return home

The Local · 20 Feb 2011, 13:58

Published: 20 Feb 2011 13:58 GMT+01:00

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Marcus Hellwig and Jens Koch, a reporter and photographer for the weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper, were taken into custody on October 10 after interviewing the son and lawyer of a woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

The two, who had entered the country on tourist visas, were given 20-month jail terms for acting against "national security." But an Iranian court commuted their sentences to fines of around €35,000 each and allowed them to leave the country.

Westerwelle went to Iran personally on Saturday, the first German Foreign Minister to do since 2003. While he was there he met Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad before flying back to Berlin with the journalists on the government plane on Sunday morning.

“Many people helped,” Westerwelle said. “Many wheels were turning within wheels, many sacrificed much to contribute.”

He also thanked his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi for what he said was helpful engagement in the matter. It was a “very complicated case,” he said.

Koch’s father Andreas Hartmann told the Bild am Sonntag that he was overjoyed when he got the call to say his son would be released.

“I don't think I said anything on the phone, just listened and cried," he said. “I am still shaking.”

Miriam Lobinksy and Christina Hellwig, sisters of Marcus Hellwig who had been active in the campaign to free the two men, expressed relief.

Story continues below…

“We are thankful and happy and really pleased that the long period of worrying and hoping has come to a good end,” said Christina Hellwig.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:05 February 20, 2011 by Landmine
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a PITA for the world. He is just asking to get his a$$ kicked behaving the way he is arresting foreigners and holding them hostage for ransom...
19:00 February 20, 2011 by Mohammad dezfuli
Shame on you Minister Guido Westerwelle.

Iranian People are chanting down with Khamenei on the streets and you shake their bloody hands at the same time.People of Iran will remember this.
19:17 February 20, 2011 by auniquecorn
Yesterday it was German tourist to be freed,

Today it´s German journalists freed.

There´s another million tax euros wasted.

Germany is starting to get weak like france.
09:06 February 21, 2011 by tallady
You travel to an Islamic republic at your own risk and peril. These two should have to pay back all those tax Euros spent on their behalf.
11:20 February 21, 2011 by rgmx4u
In the name of Allah Most Beneficient, Most Merciful. This letter from Muhammad the slave of Allah and His Apostle to Angela Merkel the ruler of Germany. Peace be upon him, who follows the right path. Furthermore I invite you to Islam, and if you become a Muslim you will be safe, and Allah will double your reward, and if you reject this invitation of Islam you will be committing a sin by misguiding your Arisiyin (peasants).

P.S. Payment of 70.000 Euro in Djizah (Islamic tax against infidels) for the two German Arisiyin has been joyfully received.
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