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IRAN: Western journalists arrested over stoning case

These are hard times for foreign journalists in Iran.

Two Western journalists have been arrested in Iran after allegedly interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman who was sentenced to be stoned for adultery.

A third longtime correspondent has also been given the boot, ordered to leave Iran within two weeks in part because of her paper's support for Ashtiani.

The head of the country’s judiciary announced the arrests Monday but said the first two were not properly accredited as journalists, an ominous suggestion that they could be charged with espionage.

Iran-Angeles_Espinosa"In the past few days, we were informed that someone from one of the foreign countries contacted the family of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani and told them that two people would be coming to Iran to interview them," Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei, Iran's chief prosecutor, told reporters, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency.

"Following this telephone call, two foreign citizens who entered Iran as tourists, contacted the son of Mrs. Mohammadi and interviewed him," he said.

"After a while, one of the people present at the meeting became suspicious of the manner of questioning of these two individuals and informed the official sources," he said. "After conducting relevant investigations, it was established that these two people were not reporters and even if they were, they did not have the relevant documents." 

The London-based Guardian interviewed Germany-based Iranian activist Mina Ahadi, who said she had set up the interview for two journalists affiliated with the mass-market German tabloid Bild am Sonntag who had recently arrived in Iran. 

"I was on the phone with one of the journalists in the middle of their interview when apparently a group of officials raided the office and our communication was instantly interrupted," Ahadi told the Guardian. "It was around 5 p.m. in Germany when it happened. I could hear them shouting 'What is happening?' at the other end of the phone in Iran and they told me they should hang up and I have not heard from them since," she said.

She said she worried for the two because of Germany's outspokenness on the issue of stoning. "Iran might keep them for a long time for a retaliation like they did with the French academic Clotilde Reiss," she said.

Meanwhile, Agence France-Presse reported Sunday that the Tehran-based resident correspondent for Spain's largest daily, El Pais, had been given two weeks to leave Iran.

Angeles Espinosa, a long-time member of the Tehran press corpstold her paper (Spanish link) that she got in trouble with Iranian authorities in July after being detained for interviewing the son of a late dissident cleric in the holy city of Qom, which she said she had permission to visit.  

When she returned to Iran several weeks ago, authorities took away her passport, canceled her residency visa and gave her until Oct. 24 to leave.

"No one has explained anything to me," she said.

She said authorities were unhappy with her paper's vocal support for Ashtiani.

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: Angeles Espinosa. Credit: El Pais

Comments () | Archives (5)

No I'm not Steve, I just like to correct people who don't know what they're talking about!
Can you show us any kind of evidence that Kurdistan was never a province of Iran! lot of Stan's which means province in Farsi did separated by foreign forces from Iran but never a Kurdistan! Any map from any century since antiquity will do!
"Iran will have a nuclear weapons sooner than later", why don't you just say she do not have it for now instead of relying on your crystal ball! and here is a list of military spending of all nations and Iran ranks 24, less than Colombia or Israel or Saudi or UAE with much less populations than Iran,
Again I stand by my comment, A highly militarized society which means almost every citizen are part of army or reserve/ occupying foreign lands according to all other nations without exception/ government demanding oath of allegiance to one "superior" race to be master race of that country enshrined in law, that was Nazi Germany and sounds a lot like today Israel!
p.s. If you read the article, it say they entered Iran with a tourist visa as oppose to journalists visa, Israel practices the same law of deportation!

Correction Joe, Iran is occupying Kurdistan, has a massive military machine that delivers weapons to Syria and Hezbollah, and Fatah, and Hamas; and, Iran will have nuclear weapons sooner than later. The government of Iran practices repression no-holds-barred (that's a wrestling term that means there are no rules). Honestly Iran is a perfect candidate for that Nazi similarity mentioned below. Honestly you sound like a prejudiced Islamo-Fascist when you bring up the topic of Israel when it isn't even mentioned in the article above or by anyone else leaving their opinion. Just curious, do you work for the Iranian government?

Corrections Cody, Iran is not occupying any foreign land or have a military machine like Nazi Germany had, honestly Israel does and is a perfect candidate for your similarity!

The life-threatening travails of these courageous reporters reminds me of Howard K. Smith's 'Last Train from Berlin' and his perilous experiences telling the world what was going on in Hitler's Germany in the 1930's. Eerie, ominous similarities between the Berlin of 75 years ago and the Tehran of today.

Ho Hum! who cares, I just love it when journalist get their nosey butts busted


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