Arrested Germans still under investigation: Iran

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Iran's judiciary said on Monday two German journalists arrested in October are still under investigation, adding that they are not facing espionage charges, local news agencies reported.

"These two did some violations after entering the country, which is under investigation. Nobody labelled them as spies," prosecutor general Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie was quoted as saying by Mehr news agency.

However, Malek Ajdar Sharifi, justice chief of East Azerbaijan province where the arrests were made, told Fars news agency on November 16 that the two men were being accused of espionage.

And in an interview with a German newspaper on Sunday, senior presidential aide Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie also denied the pair were facing espionage charges.

"Investigation is ongoing for these two Germans. Some other issues may be revealed during the investigation, but for the moment they are held for the violation they have committed," Ejeie said.

"Although they claim to be journalists they did not enter the country under this title and did not coordinate with the ministry of guidance," he added.

All journalists working for foreign media must obtain accreditation from the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance in order to work in Iran.

According to their employer, the mass-circulation weekly Bild am Sonntag, the two men, who have not been named, travelled to Iran to investigate the case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death by stoning.

They were arrested on October 10 in Tabriz in northwest Iran together with Mohammadi-Ashtiani's son and the family's lawyer, according to Bild am Sonntag.

© 2010 AFP

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