Iran 'still reviewing' case of two Germans

31st January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Iran is still reviewing the case of two Germans held for working in the Islamic republic without authorisation and indictments have still not been issued, the prosecutor general said on Monday.

"No indictments have been issued and their case is under review," Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency.

He reiterated that the two had entered Iran as tourists "while they were reporters which is why they were arrested," adding that he had never said the two carried "spying equipment" on them when they were detained.

"They have accepted that their work was illegal," he said.

On Sunday, Germany urged Iran to immediately release the pair arrested for covering the case of a woman whose sentence to death by stoning has provoked international condemnation.

"I call on the Iranian government to immediately free the journalists imprisoned since October 10 and to make possible their return," Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

The pair, Marcus Hellwig and Jens Koch, work for Bild am Sonntag.

They were arrested in the city of Tabriz for interviewing the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

Iran previously accused the Germans of having links with an anti-revolutionary group and said they had not obtained a special government permit to work in the country, which is usually required of foreigners.

German Deputy Foreign Minister Wolf-Ruthart Born travelled to Tehran last week to discuss the case but was unable to obtain any results, Bild am Sonntag said.

Earlier this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi demanded "apologies" over the incident from the Axel Springer group, which owns the newspaper.

"If the publisher and the editor-in-chief acknowledge they made a mistake, it would be a very useful gesture," he said in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine.

But Mohseni Ejeie said apologising would not influence the judiciary's work.

"If it becomes evident that they are criminals, then their case will not be closed despite an apology and they will have to endure punishment," he said in a separate report carried by Fars news agency.

"But if it becomes evident that they are not criminals, then whether they apologise or not will not make any difference and they will be freed based on (Iranian) law."

© 2011 AFP

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