German publisher offers to meet with Iran about detained journalists | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 08.01.2011
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German publisher offers to meet with Iran about detained journalists

Germany and Iran are closer to resolving the case of two journalists detained in Iran since October. Iran’s foreign minister has said their release could be accelerated if the company the two were working for apologizes.

A silhouette of a man behind bars with an Iranian flag

The journalists have been detained since October

German publisher Axel Springer has agreed to meet with Iran's foreign minister in order to secure the release of two of its journalists who have been detained in Iran since October.

Top executives from Axel Springer said in a statement Saturday that they were ready to meet with Ali Akbar Salehi in Tehran or elsewhere to begin discussions leading to the journalists' release.

The decision follows a statement from Salehi made earlier Saturday, in which he said an apology from Axel Springer would be “help to secure the journalists' release."

"It could ... be a helpful gesture if the publisher and chief editors recognized that they made a mistake, and apologize for it," he told German news magazine Der Spiegel in an interview to be published Monday.

Salehi said the Foreign Ministry was "trying to remove obstacles that could lead to delays and complications" in the case, adding that the publisher should apologize for "distorting events" and "make sure it doesn't happen again."

'A positive signal'

Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani

The reporters were arrested trying to interview Ashtiani's son

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, on a two-day trip to Pakistan, said Salehi's offer of help was a positive signal.

"I will not refrain in my efforts, in order that our two compatriots can return home," Westerwelle told the Bild am Sonntag weekly newspaper. "We will take all sensible and appropriate measures to enable their return as soon as possible."

The two men, a reporter and photographer from the Bild am Sonntag, have been in custody since early October.

They were arrested after they entered Iran on tourist visas to interview the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a woman charged with adultery and involvement in the murder of her husband.

Her sentence to death by stoning has sparked international condemnation.

Author: Martin Kuebler (AFP, AP, dpa)
Editor: Kyle James

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