TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran said Monday it will allow relatives to visit two German journalists detained while covering the case of an Iranian woman whose sentence to death by stoning for adultery has caused an international outcry.
It was not immediately clear when the visit would be allowed. Earlier Monday, the German Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador to complain that the two were not able to meet with relatives over Christmas, despite earlier promises.
Late Monday, an official Iranian TV outlet, Press TV, identified the two Germans for the first time, showing a passport belonging to as Marcus Alfred Rudolf Hellwig. The English-language Press TV identified the second journalist as Jens Andreas Koch.
Ashtiani’s sentence, which Iran has put on hold, has brought harsh condemnation from the U.S., the European Union and rights groups who are pressuring Tehran to stay the execution. It has further strained Iran’s relations with world powers, already tense over the country’s disputed nuclear program.
The two Germans — a reporter and a photographer for the mass-circulation tabloid Bild am Sonntag — entered the country on tourist visas and were arrested in early October in the northwestern city of Tabriz while interviewing the son and lawyer of the woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani. Ashtiani lived in Tabriz and is currently in prison there.
Iranian and German authorities have not identified the two German prisoners. Ashtiani’s son and lawyer were arrested around the same time as the two journalists.
Iranian officials approved the visit by the families in Tabriz, 400 miles (630 kilometers) from the capital Tehran, according to a statement on the website of state TV.