Iran charges two German journalists with spying over Ashtiani case

November 16th, 2010 - 10:05 pm ICT by BNO News  

TEHRAN, IRAN (BNO NEWS) –The two German journalists that were arrested for interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose death sentence has been pending, have been charged with spying against Iran, prosecutors said Tuesday.

“The espionage crime of the two Germans, who came to Iran with the aim of creating negative propaganda and spying, is clear and proven,” said Malek-Ajdar Sharifi, prosecutor general of Iran’s East Azerbaijan province.

In October, the two foreigners entered Tehran with tourist visas and not working visas as is required, and the pair failed to produce any document that identified them as journalists when security forces raided the office where they were interviewing Ashanti’s son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, in Tabriz, north-west Iran.

The International Committee Against Stoning (ICAS), a German-based campaigning group, said the two Germans are journalists. One of them has been identified as a freelance photagrapher.

Last night, the two women appeared on Iran’s channel 2 to “confess” they had been acting under the orders of ICAS, and performing “illegal acts.”

While German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been trying to secure their release, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast had stated that they were linked to Iranian anti-revolutionary groups in Germany.

Ashtiani, 43, in 2006 was sentenced to death twice by two courts in two separate trials. The first sentence to death by hanging stemmed from her involvement in the murder of her husband in the northwestern city of Tabriz.

After this conviction, Ashtiani was then sentenced to death by hanging as she was later accused of being involved with two different men after her husband’s murder a year before. The process is ongoing.

However, Ashtiani’s execution was not carried out early November, despite authorities previously approving her death.

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