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Iran Prosecutor Says Germans 'Admitted Breaking Law'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has appealed for the Germans' release.
Iranian authorities say that two German nationals arrested trying to interview the son of a woman condemned to death by stoning have admitted to breaking the law.

Berlin is seeking the release of both individuals, and German officials told reporters that diplomats have been unable to speak to the detainees and that they have no new information regarding their case.

"The two Germans have acknowledged their offense," state-run Press TV quoted Prosecutor-General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei as saying of the two, who were detained in Tabriz, in northwest Iran, on October 10. "They were pursuing a certain agenda," he added.

The two reportedly were in Iran on tourist visas and, Iranian prosecutors claim, had no right to be doing reportorial work. Accredited journalists for foreign media must get official permission to travel outside the capital, Tehran.

German reports have suggested the two were working for "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper, whose publisher has declined to comment.

Iran's Foreign Ministry has suggested the two have links to "antirevolutionary networks abroad."

They were reportedly arrested after meeting with the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose stoning sentence for adultery has been delayed but no clear outcome announced.

The case raised huge international outcry, and a lawyer who was defending Ashtiani has fled Iran with his family in the face of official harassment.

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has said Ashtiani was never sentenced to stoning, but multiple reports and statements from her former lawyer contradict that assertion.

Ashtiani's grown son and daughter have campaigned feverishly against the death sentence, handed down after Ashtiani's initial sentencing in the case, which included charges of involvement in the murder of her husband.

compiled from Reuters and RFE/RL reports