Iran considers release of German reporters
TEHRAN: Iran is considering a request from Germany to free two journalists who were arrested as they were interviewing the son of a woman sentenced to be stoned to death, a spokesman said on Tuesday. The announcement comes as Germany is taking part, alongside the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, in negotiations with Iran that the West hopes will address concerns Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons technology.
"There is a new request filed, given the New Year and Christmas time, (that) it may be possible for them to reunite with their families. We are following this," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news conference. The arrest of the two reporters for German weekly Bild am Sonntag in October worsened relations between Iran and the European Union ahead of the talks.
They were arrested while interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose death sentence for adultery sparked global outrage and highlighted concerns about Iran's human rights record.
Mehmanparast said the judiciary would decide on the Germans' fate. He denied reports that they faced spying charges, a crime which can be punishable by death. The reporters did not have the necessary permission to work as journalists in Iran where even accredited foreign correspondents need official permission to travel outside Tehran. The stoning sentence for adultery received global media attention, with the EU calling it "barbaric," the Vatican pleading for clemency and Brazil offering Ashtiani asylum. -Reuters