Reuters: Two foreign nationals have been arrested, an Iranian judiciary official said on Monday, after interviewing the son of a woman whose sentence of death by stoning for adultery was recently suspended amid international condemnation.
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Two foreign nationals have been arrested, an Iranian judiciary official said on Monday, after interviewing the son of a woman whose sentence of death by stoning for adultery was recently suspended amid international condemnation.
The report by Iran’s students news agency ISNA did not give their nationalities, but Britain’s Guardian newspaper said they were German journalists from Germany’s Bild am Sonntag weekly.
“Two foreigners posing as journalists have been arrested in Iran,” Iranian prosecutor general Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
“We were informed that … the two planned to interview the family of Sakineh Ashtiani … They entered Iran as tourists and conducted an interview with her son.”
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani was convicted of adultery, but Iranian officials earlier this month suspended her execution by stoning after weeks of condemnation from around the world.
She was convicted of adultery — a capital crime in the Islamic Republic — in 2006. She has also been charged with involvement in her husband’s murder.
The International Committee against Stoning organization said on its website the Germans, a reporter and a photographer, were arrested with the son of Ashtiani and her lawyer following a raid at the lawyer’s office on Sunday.
“I was on the phone with one of the journalists in the middle of their interview when apparently a group of officials raided the office and our communication was instantly interrupted,” Mina Ahadi from the ICS told the Guardian.
Adultery is the only crime which carries the penalty of death by stoning under Sharia, Islamic law, which Iran adopted after the 1979 Islamic revolution, a lawyer told Reuters.
The death penalty for murder in Iran is by hanging.
On the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in September, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused foreign media of fabricating news, saying Ashtiani had not been sentenced to death by stoning.
Ejei, also the judiciary spokesman, said the “two were under detention” but did not say where.
“The two did not have documents to prove they were journalists.”
(Reporting by Hossein Jaseb and Michael Holden in London, Writing by Parisa Hafezi, Editing by Tim Pearce)