Arrested Germans in Iran 'doing well': minister

21st October 2010, Comments 0 comments

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Thursday that two Germans arrested in Iran who reportedly interviewed the son of a woman sentenced to death by stoning were "doing well under the circumstances".

Westerwelle told reporters that the Germans, who have been detained since October 10, met with a representative of their embassy in Tehran, which he said was still working to secure their release.

"Following very intensive and very difficult discussions, an official at the German embassy in Tehran received consular access today to the two German citizens who are in custody in Tabriz," Westerwelle said.

"Our fellow citizens are doing well under the circumstances. We are still doing everything we can to ensure that the two can return safe and sound to Germany as soon as possible."

An Iranian foreign ministry spokesman had said Tuesday that Tehran granted consular access to the two Germans, who were arrested in Tabriz in the northwest of the country.

The Germans, who have not been identified, were reportedly interviewing Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, whose mother is facing death by stoning on charges of adultery.

Westerwelle last Friday asked his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki during talks in Brussels to help secure the release of two Germans.

And a visiting parliamentary group from Germany on Monday asked Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani to intervene in the case.

Iran's public prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie said Friday the two defendants "who came to Tabriz in cooperation with hostile groups based abroad" had admitted to having committed an offence, Iranian news agencies reported.

The Germans, who entered the Islamic republic on tourist visas, reportedly work for the Springer group in Germany. Foreign reporters need special press visas to be able to work in Iran.

Mohammadi-Ashtiani was sentenced to death by two different courts in Tabriz in separate trials in 2006.

The first death sentence, by hanging, for her involvement in the murder of her husband, was commuted to a 10-year jail term by an appeals court in 2007.

But the second, by stoning, was on a charge of adultery levelled over several relationships, notably with the man convicted of her husband's murder, and was upheld by another appeals court the same year.

Since July, Iran has repeatedly said that the stoning sentence has been stayed pending a final decision, amid international outcry over the case.

© 2010 AFP

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