Iran says consular access granted to detained Germans

19th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Iran said on Tuesday it has granted consular access to two Germans arrested in the Islamic republic while they were reportedly interviewing the son of a woman sentenced to death by stoning.

"Following talks with German officials ... consular access to these two people has been granted," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters at his weekly news conference.

The two Germans were arrested in the northwestern city of Tabriz on October 10 reportedly while interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, who is facing death by stoning on charges of adultery.

The pair, who entered the Islamic republic on tourist visas, work for the Springer group in Germany, according to Der Spiegel weekly. Foreign reporters need special press visas to be able to work in Iran.

Mehmanparast reiterated on Tuesday that the two Germans had "committed an offence because they entered the country with tourist visas but engaged in journalistic work."

"Their case is with judiciary officials."

A visiting parliamentary group from Germany on Monday asked Iran's parliament speaker Ali Larijani to intervene in the case, a source close to the delegation told AFP.

The parliamentarians arrived in Iran on Sunday on a six-day visit during which they will also meet representatives of the government, the opposition and human rights groups.

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 final decision, in the face of an international outcry.

© 2010 AFP

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