Iran demands apology from German publisher
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said on Saturday an apology from the German publisher Axel Springer which employs two journalists detained in Iran would be a "useful gesture".
Asked by Der Spiegel what could be done to accelerate the release of the journalists, who work for the Bild am Sonntag weekly, Salehi demanded the company admit that it had "made a mistake".
Salehi said Axel Springer should apologise for "distorting events", and "make sure it doesn't happen again", he told Der Spiegel.
The two Germans were arrested at Tabriz in October as they were interviewing the son and the lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, the Iranian woman whose sentence to death by stoning has provoked international condemnation.
Iran says the two entered the country on tourist visas and failed to obtain necessary accreditation for journalists from the authorities before "posing as reporters" when they contacted her family.
Salehi said that if it was up to him, the affair would be resolved immediately, but he "could only promise that judicial procedures would take place quickly and fairly".
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was pleased that Salehi "envisaged a resolution of this affair in the fairly near future," he said in a statement.
The management of Axel Springer and the editor of Bild am Sonntag said in a statement that Salehi's comments "raised hopes for the speedy return of our two reporters".
The company was ready to discuss the issue with Salehi in person either in Tehran or at another location, the statement added.
© 2011 AFP