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Iran Confirms Spying Charges Against Two Germans

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

An Iranian judiciary official says two Germans arrested in Iran as they tried to interview the son of a woman who had been sentenced to death by stoning are being held on espionage charges.

The semi-official Fars news agency quoted Malekajdar Sharifi, the head of the judiciary in Eastern Azerbaijan Province, as saying that the "espionage charges" for the two Germans had been approved.

The two Germans were arrested on October 10 while interviewing the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman who had been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.

No formal charges have been laid against them.

"The case of the two Germans is in the hands of the judiciary and they will remain detained until the end of the legal procedures," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.

Officials said they had entered Iran on tourist visas and did not have permission for any journalistic activities.

According to Fars, one of the Germans had said he was misled into cooperating by an Iranian dissident, Mina Ahadi, living in exile in Germany and would sue her when he returned home.

compiled from agency reports