Two German journalists have been formally charged with spying against Iran. The female journalists were arrested after questioning relatives of an Iranian woman who has been sentenced to death by stoning in a case that led to international criticism of Iran’s justice system.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, is on death row for alleged adultery and involvement in her husband’s murder. Her son and daughter have campaigned on her behalf; they say she is innocent and that a partial confession in 2006 was extracted using torture.
Ashtiani’s lawyers have contested the alleged confession and have also protested the fact that her trial was conducted in Persian despite the fact that she speaks the Azeri language.
The two journalists who had spoken to Ashtiani’s family appeared Monday on a state-run television program to confess to acting on the orders of the International Committee Against Stoning. On the same program, Ashtiani was quoted as calling herself “a sinner.”
Ashtiani’s son Sajad was arrested last month after encouraging international protests of her sentence. State television broadcast an alleged statement from him as well.
The official broadcast focused blame on Ashtiani’s lawyers, who were accused of encouraging international condemnation of Iran in order to seek political asylum in Europe. The state television program also lashed out at Mina Ahadi of the International Committee Against Stoning, who was termed a “communist dissident.”