Iran permits detained German journalists to visit with family | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 28.12.2010
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Iran permits detained German journalists to visit with family

Following a demand from the German Foreign Ministry, Tehran has allowed two German journalists detained in Iran to visit with their families. The reporter and photographer have been held in Iran since October.

A graphic silhouette of a man and jail bars in front of the Iranian flag

The unnamed journalists have been held since October

Two German journalists who have been detained in Iran for the past 11 weeks were allowed to meet with visiting family members, the German Foreign Ministry said late on Monday night.

Guido Westerwelle

Westerwelle had asked for a Christmas visit

Earlier in the day, the ministry summoned Iran's ambassador in Berlin, because it appeared the visit would not take place as had been hoped. On Sunday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called on Tehran to set up the visit during the Christmas holiday, which includes December 26 in Germany.

Despite the visit coming after Christmas, Westerwelle issued a statement on Monday thanking his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi, for his support in setting up the visit and called for the release of the two journalists.

According to Iran's IRNA news agency, humanitarian grounds and the Christian holiday season were taken into account when the decision was made to grant the visit.

Lack of credentials

The reporter and photographer from the mass circulation Bild am Sonntag newspaper, who have not been named, have been detained since October 10. They were arrested as they tried to interview the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, a 43-year-old woman whose sentence to death by stoning for adultery and murder gained international attention.

Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani

The journalists were seeking interviews about Ashtiani

Iranian authorities said the journalists had entered the country on tourist visas and did not get the proper press accreditation, thereby violating visa regulations.

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

Bild am Sonntag reported that the mother of one of the journalists and the sister of the other had travelled to Iran for the visit. The two reporters were moved from Tehran, where they are being held, to the city of Tabriz, about 530 kilometers (330 miles) to the northwest to meet with their family members.

Author: Matt Zuvela (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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