Iran stoning woman 'under pressure' - activist

Berlin - The threat by an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning to sue two German reporters shows that she is under great pressure, according to an activist who is also under fire from the woman.

"I think she is being subjected to enormous pressure by the Islamic regime and has said that under pressure," said Mina Ahadi, an anti-stoning activist based in Germany who warned in November of the imminent execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, appeared in front of foreign media and judiciary officials on Saturday and said she has told her son to sue two German reporters who had interviewed him about her case.

"I have told Sajjad... to sue the ones who have disgraced me and the country," she said in the north-western city of Tabriz where her trial took place.

Mohammadi Ashtiani named those she wants to sue as "the two Germans", her former lawyer Mohammad Mostafaie, her husband's convicted murderer Issa Taheri and Ahadi.


"I have a complaint against them," she told Iran-based foreign media at an appearance organised by judiciary officials at a government welfare organisation guesthouse in Tabriz.

The two German journalists from Bild am Sonntag were arrested on October 10 in Tabriz for interviewing Ashtiani's son and family lawyer who were also taken into custody. The son was released in December.

Iran says the two Germans entered the country on tourist visas and failed to obtain the necessary accreditation for journalists from the authorities before "posing as reporters" when they contacted Mohammadi Ashtiani's family.

Ahadi, who reportedly arranged for the Germans to meet Mohammadi Ashtiani's son, said that she was "pleased that our operations against stoning are annoying the regime".

The deputy editor of Bild am Sonntag said he was "surprised and amazed" at Mohammadi Ashtiani's remarks about its reporters.

"We find it surprising that a woman sentenced to death in Iran could leave prison for a few hours to announce to the Western media that she wants charges against the journalists reporting on her case," Michael Backhaus said.

Mohammadi Ashtiani was sentenced to death by two different courts in Tabriz in separate trials in 2006.

Her sentence to hang for her involvement in the murder of her husband was commuted to a 10-year jail term by an appeals court in 2007.

But a second sentence to death by stoning on charges of adultery levelled over several relationships, notably with the man convicted of her husband's murder, was upheld by another appeals court the same year.

Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was joined by her children on Saturday when she spoke to the media, did not make any plea for clemency, but her son Sajjad Ghaderzadeh pleaded for her execution to be stayed.
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