Reuters: Iran will allow consular access on Tuesday to two Germans arrested in Iran last week after they tried to interview the son of a woman sentenced to be stoned to death, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran will allow consular access on Tuesday to two Germans arrested in Iran last week after they tried to interview the son of a woman sentenced to be stoned to death, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
Germany has been seeking the release of its two nationals and had been denied access to them. Iran says they entered the country on tourist visas and were working as reporters illegally.
“Today it will be possible for the two German citizens to have consular access,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a weekly news conference.
“Their case is under review by the judiciary.”
The two were arrested after meeting the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose death sentence for adultery was suspended following a global outcry.
Under Iran’s Islamic sharia law, adultery is punishable by stoning. Ashtiani also faces a charge of being complicit in the murder of her husband, a crime for which she could be sentenced to death by hanging.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denied Ashtiani was ever sentenced to stoning, accusing foreign media of whipping up the story to discredit Iran.
German media say the detainees were reporting for the mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag newspaper, but the paper’s publisher, Axel Springer has declined to comment.
Accredited correspondents working for foreign media need official permission to travel outside Tehran.
The Germans’ detention risks worsening relations as the European Union tries to bring Iran back to talks over its nuclear programme, which the West fears may be aimed at creating an atomic bomb.
Mehmanparast said Iran had “large-scale cooperation” with Germany — one of the most influential countries in the EU bloc which imposed its own, tougher, sanctions on Iran following a fourth round of U.N. Security Council resolution in June.
The sanctions are aimed at pressuring Iran to curb its nuclear programme which the West fears could lead it to make nuclear weapons. Iran says it does not want the bomb and is merely exercising its right to peaceful nuclear energy.
(Editing by Myra MacDonald)