Thursday, 18 November 2010

Guardian: Iran charges two German journalists with spying over Ashtiani case

Pair 'confess' on state TV after interviewing son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman sentenced to death by stoning

Two German journalists have been charged with spying against Iran after interviewing the family of the woman sentenced to death by stoning, an Iranian judicial official said today.
The two women, who were identified only as a reporter and a photographer, were arrested in the city of Tabriz last month after interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
Malekajdar Sharifi, the head of the judiciary in East Azerbaijan province, said today that spying charges have been formally lodged against them.
The semi-official Fars News Agency quoted him as saying: "The espionage charge for the two German citizens who came to Iran to stage propaganda and spying has been approved."
According to Iran's English-language broadcaster, Press TV, he added: "These two women are certainly spies and their case will be addressed [in a court of law]."
Sharifi said their behaviour suggested they were spies and that they were trying to create a negative impression against Iran. Germany has said it is doing all it can to secure their release.
The two women appeared on state TV last night to "confess" they had been acting under the orders of the German-based International Committee Against Stoning (Icas) to publicise Ashtiani's case.
Appearing on TV for the third time since her case caught the world's attention, Ashtiani, 43, also accused Mina Ahadi from Icas of spreading her story around the world.
The broadcast, on Iran's Channel 2, portrayed Ahadi as "a communist dissident exiled in Germany", who had taken advantage of Ashtiani's case for her own benefit.
In the broadcast the two Germans admitted "illegal acts". One of them said: "Mina Ahadi sent me to Iran because she knew she would benefit from my arrest and I'll sue her when I get back to Germany."
The sentence of stoning against Ashtiani, for alleged adultery, has prompted international outrage.
The sentence was suspended in July this year, but the Iranian courts have since indicated that they could consider hanging her for her alleged involvement in the murder of her husband. Ashtiani's lawyers insist she is innocent.

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