Two Germans detained in Iran meet family members
TEHRAN: Two detained German journalists were allowed to meet their families, nearly three months after they were arrested while covering the highly publicized case of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, Iranian and German officials said Tuesday.
The meeting took place Monday night in the northwestern city of Tabriz, where the two Germans are being held, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in Tehran. He and German officials did not say whether the meeting was taking place in the prison or elsewhere.
A German Foreign Office spokesman said the meeting was " still taking place" Tuesday morning, without elaborating. The spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department policy.
The two Germans have been held since early October after being arrested while interviewing the son and lawyer of 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. The two were working as reporter and photographer for the mass-circulation tabloid Bild am Sonntag. The son and lawyer were also arrested at the same time.
Iranian officials claim the Germans admitted violating Iranian laws forbidding those entering the country on tourist visas to work as journalists. Iran's judiciary rejected earlier claims by local officials who accused the two of espionage, and no spy charges have been filed against them.
Neither Iranian nor German authorities have so far identified the two journalists. But late Monday, Iran's state Press TV showed a passport belonging to a Marcus Alfred Rudolf Hellwig and identified the second journalist as Jens Andreas Koch.
Bild on Tuesday confirmed the meeting between the journalists and two family members had taken place. In a report on its website, the daily also quoted German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle as thanking his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi "for his support" in arranging the meeting.
However, the German foreign minister added that "the government continues to press for a quick return of our two compatriots to Germany," Bild reported. -Ap
KUWAIT CITY: Mussalem al-Barrak (L) and other lawmakers protest the presence of security forces outside the parliament building, ahead of a questioning session of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah. -Reuters