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Detained journalists

December 26, 2010

Germany's Foreign Ministry has confirmed that two German journalists held in Iran have not been allowed Christmas visits with their families. An earlier visit planned for Saturday was canceled.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle
Westerwelle had hoped families would be allowed a visitImage: AP

The German Foreign Ministry said Sunday that the families of two German journalists detained in Iran have been denied Christmas visits with their relatives.

"Despite several affirmations by Iran, it was not possible for them to meet during the Christmas period," a spokesman said.

The two unnamed journalists, a reporter and a photographer, work for the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. They were arrested October 10 as they traveled to Iran to interview the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, the 43-year-old woman whose death sentence by stoning for adultery and murder has gained international attention.

Iranian officials say the two men entered the country on tourist visas and did not have the proper accreditation to work as journalists while in the country.

It was originally reported that the two had also been charged with espionage, but Iran has said that is not the case.

Family members traveled to Iran

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
The reporters were arrested trying to interview Ashtiani's sonImage: rowzane.com

Speaking to Bild am Sonntag earlier Sunday, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle had demanded that the families of the journalists be allowed access to the prisoners, saying that he was hopeful a meeting would happen.

"I want to express my expectation that a meeting with family members can take place over Christmas," Westerwelle said. December 26 is still part of the Christmas holiday in Germany.

According to the newspaper, the mother of the photographer and the sister of the reporter traveled to Tehran on Friday with the hope of meeting the men.

But a visit planned for Saturday was canceled, according to Iranian sources, because the journalists had not yet been moved from the northwestern city of Tabriz, where they were arrested, to Tehran.

Iranian officials have said they are doing everything they can to make the family meeting possible.

Authors: Holly Fox, Martin Kuebler (AFP, AP, dpa)
Editor: Sarah Harman