Germans detained in Iran to meet families: IRNA

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Two German journalists detained in Iran since October will meet with their families, the official IRNA news agency reported Monday after Germany denied a report the meeting already occurred.

IRNA reported the foreign ministry "has made it possible for two German national arrested in Iran to meet their families" after German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle made a request to Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi.

The report said the request was granted "on humanitarian grounds" and took into account the Christian holiday season, without giving any indication of when the meeting would be held.

A spokesman for the German foreign ministry in Berlin said the "relatives are now on their way to Tabriz," in northwestern Iran.

Earlier, Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency said the encounter had already taken place in Tabriz.

But the German spokesman said "there has been no meeting as yet," while adding however that Iran's Salehi "confirmed that a meeting could take place."

German weekly Bild am Sonntag has said its two employees, who have not been named, travelled to Iran to investigate the case of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

They were arrested on October 10 in Tabriz.

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.

Earlier on Monday, Germany summoned the Iranian ambassador over Tehran's refusal to allow the jailed journalists see their families over the Christmas holidays, a spokesman said.

German foreign ministry spokesman Stefan Bredohl said the reporters' families had travelled to Iran to visit them in jail but that the trip had been in vain despite "several firm promises from the Iranian side".

"As such a visit has yet to take place, the Iranian ambassador was summoned to the foreign ministry and State Secretary (Wolf-Ruthart) Born very clearly expressed the German government's displeasure," Bredohl said.

© 2010 AFP

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