Posted by: bahareiran | October 11, 2010

Iran: 2 foreigners arrested, tied to stoning case

By MARJORIE OLSTER, Associated Press Writer Marjorie Olster, Associated Press Writer Mon Oct 11, 2:45 pm ET

CAIRO – Iran said Monday that it had arrested two foreigners as they were interviewing the son of a woman whose death sentence by stoning on an adultery conviction ignited international outrage.

Judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi said the two foreigners had entered the country on tourist visas and did not have documents to prove they were journalists. His comments were carried on the official IRNA news agency.

In Berlin, the German Journalists’ Association said two German journalists were arrested Sunday while interviewing Sajjad Qaderzadeh, the son of 43-year-old Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. The union did not name the journalists but urged Iran to immediately release them.

The whereabouts of Qaderzadeh and his mother’s lawyer, Houtan Kian, were not immediately known and their cell phones have been switched off since the foreigners’ arrest, possible indications that they too are in custody.

The arrests are likely to draw even more international condemnation of Iran, already under fire from the West over it nuclear program.

Also, the U.S. has repeatedly condemned Iran for holding two American men in prison for 14 months. Iran initially accused the two of crossing the border from Iraq illegally but later leveled more serious allegations of spying. An American woman arrested with the two was released last month on humanitarian grounds. She and the U.S. government insist the three were innocent hikers and if they crossed the border, it was inadvertent.

A German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said the government is aware of the latest arrest reports, but could not confirm them at this stage. She said the Foreign Ministry and the German Embassy in Tehran are making intense efforts to find out exactly what happened. The spokeswoman requested anonymity in line with government policy.

Ejehi did not identify the two foreigners or their nationalities. He said a person who was present during the interview alerted the authorities, but he did not say who it was.

The head of the German Journalists’ Association, Michael Konken, sharply criticized Iranian authorities for pretending the two weren’t journalists because they allegedly were not accredited as such.

“This is a pretext to avoid critical reporting about the violation of human rights in Iran,” Konken said in a statement.

German media reported Monday the two journalists were employed by Axel Springer AG’s weekly newspaper Bild am Sonntag, a mass-circulation tabloid. But a company spokesman, Tobias Froehlich, said the group currently has no information of any arrest of Bild employees in Iran.

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