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Iranian woman sentenced to stoning lashes out at German journalists

An Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery has said she "has a complaint" against two German journalists who were arrested in October as they sought to interview her son.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death by stoning, told reporters at a press conference organized by Iranian judicial officials that she was "disgraced" by two German journalists who had interviewed her son.

"I have a complaint against them," Ashtiani said. "Why did they come here? Why did they come here and pose as journalists?"

The two German journalists in question - a reporter and a photographer - from the mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag newspaper interviewed Ashtiani's son on October 10. They were then arrested for not obtaining the proper press credentials after entering Iran on tourist visas, according to Iranian officials.

"I have come in front of the cameras at my own will to talk to the world," Ashtiani was reported as saying. "I am willing to talk because many people exploited (the case) and said I have been tortured, which is a lie."

The press conference was held in Tabriz, where Ashtiani is being held.

Son pleads for clemency

Cameras pointed at Ashtiani during her press conference

Ashtiani, left, and her son were allowed to speak with journalists

Ashtiani was convicted in 2006 for adultery and sentenced to death by stoning. An international outcry over the sentence has resulted in a suspended sentence, which is currently under review.

Ashtiani could still face execution by hanging over complicity in her husband's murder, but on Saturday, her son Sajjad Ghaderzadeh requested that her life be spared.

"In my opinion my mother is also guilty but since we have lost our father we do not want to lose our mother too," he told reporters in Tabriz. "Consequently, we ask for a commutation of the penalty."

Ghaderzadeh recently posted bail of around 30,000 euro ($40,000) after being arrested in October for talking to the journalists from Bild am Sonntag. A court is currently reviewing his case, and it remains unclear if he will be formally charged.

An appeal to Iran

One of the journalists meets with a family member

The jailed journalists met with family just after Christmas

Bild am Sonntag urged Iran on Sunday to release the two unnamed journalists. A hundred prominent figures in German politics, sports, and culture signed the appeal.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was quoted as saying "the (two reporters) must be released as soon as possible and return to Germany. I will make every effort to that end in the new year."

"A state like Iran, which always calls for understanding, must not flout it in other areas," said Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

Other signatories included the heads of Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Telekom and BMW, soccer player Philipp Lahm, Formula One star and seven-time former world champion Michael Schumacher, and Nobel literature laureate Herta Mueller.

Last week, Iran allowed two relatives of the journalists to meet them in a hotel in Tabriz, but German officials say there is no sign that release for the men is near.

Author: Matt Zuvela (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

Editor: Toma Tasovac

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