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German newspaper appeals for release of journalists held in Iran

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag launched a high-profile campaign on Sunday, appealing for the release of two of its journalists detained in Iran. They have been incarcerated since October 10.

Copy of the Bild am Sonntag newspaper

The two imprisoned journalists work for Bild am Sonntag

The Sunday edition of Europe's best-selling newspaper has made a public appeal for the return of two of its journalists who have been imprisoned in Iran.

The two men - a reporter and a photographer for Bild am Sonntag - were arrested on October 10 while interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death by stoning for murder and adultery.

Bild's front page read: "We are greatly concerned over two colleagues."

The reporters were initially accused of not having proper accreditation after entering Iran on tourist visas. They have since been accused of espionage which carries much stronger penalties.

Accusations are 'absurd'

Front page of the 21 November Bild am Sonntag

The newspaper launched its appeal after the reporters were shown on Iranian state television

In an editorial, Bild am Sonntag's editor-in-chief Walter Mayer wrote that the allegations that the two are spies and not journalists is "absurd."

"The Iranian authorities know perfectly well that they are journalists and nothing else," wrote Mayer.

The newspaper said it had decided to launch a public appeal after the reporters were shown on Iranian state television earlier this week, apparently admitting to their wrongdoings.

"We see that they are doing badly, that they are suffering," Mayer wrote, appealing, "Both must come home soon!"

On Friday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called on Iran to respect international law in its treatment of the journalists, including regular consular access and "appropriate custodial conditions."

Author: Catherine Bolsover (dpa, AP, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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