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German Foreign Ministry looking into arrest of two foreigners in Iran

Iran has arrested two foreigners for interviewing the son of a woman sentenced to death by stoning, a public prosecutor said on Monday. Unconfirmed reports say the two were German investigative journalists.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Ashtiani was sentenced to death in 2007 for adultery

Two foreign nationals have been arrested in Iran for interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning. Unconfirmed reports Monday said the journalists were German nationals working with a campaigner in Germany.

A spokeswoman for the German Foreign Ministry told German press agency dpa that it and the German embassy were working to clarify the situation as soon as possible. The German Journalist Association has called for the immediate release of the reporters.

Public prosecutor Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie told local media on Monday that the two foreigners had entered the country as tourists and were detained after not being able to provide proper press accreditation, saying they had "faked their journalistic status."

According to the rights group, International Committee Against Stoning, Iranian security forces arrested the two journalists during the interview which took place on Sunday afternoon at Ashtiani's lawyer's office.

Mina Ahadi, the committee's spokeswoman who took part in the interview via telephone from Germany, said one of the journalists abruptly exclaimed "What's going on here?" before being forced to hang up.

Since then, Ahadi said she has been unable to establish contact with either of the journalists, Ashtiani's son, or her lawyer.

Ahadi told the AFP news agency that the two journalists were working for the German Bild am Sonntag newspaper, but refused to name them for "security reasons."

Author: Gabriel Borrud, Martin Kuebler (AFP/dpa)
Editor: Rob Turner

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