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IRAN: Tehran frees two German journalists jailed for reporting on stoning verdicts

February 19, 2011 | 12:12 pm


Two German journalists were freed from an Iranian prison Saturday after the Tehran government agreed to show "Islamic compassion" and reduced their 20-month sentences for reporting on the case of an Iranian woman twice sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and other crimes.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle arrived in Tehran late Saturday to accompany the two reporters for Bild am Sonntag newspaper back home after four months' imprisonment in Tabriz.

An Iranian Justice Ministry statement said their sentences had been reviewed and reduced to time served and fines equivalent to $50,000 each for "acting against national security," the ISNA news agency reported.

The journalists, Marcus Hellwig and Jens Koch, were arrested in Tabriz in October after interviewing the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose 2006 sentences to death by stoning drew international condemnation. One of the two death sentences was upheld on appeal and she remains imprisoned pending execution.

-- Carol J. Williams

Photo: German journalists Jens Koch, left, and Marcus Hellwig arrive Saturday at the Mehrabad airport in Tehran from the northwestern city of Tabriz, where they had been jailed. The two were arrested four months ago after they interviewed the son of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. Credit: Associated Press