Two journalists working for the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag were arrested after interviewing the son of a woman convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning, a case that had drawn worldwide attention. Bild am Sonntag said the journalists, an editor and a photographer, had traveled to Iran to report a story on the woman, Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani. Neither the paper nor the government disclosed the names of the journalists.
The two were initially accused of improperly entering the country on tourist visas. “The two people were not journalists—or they had no proof for it,” state-run Press TV quoted judiciary spokesman Gholam Hossein Mohseni-Ejei as saying.
In November, authorities announced that the two journalists would be charged with espionage. “The espionage charge for the two German citizens who came to Iran to stage propaganda and spying has been approved,” Malekajdar Sharifi, head of the judiciary in Eastern Azerbaijan province, told the semi-official Fars News Agency. Espionage in Iran carries a possible death sentence.
Bild am Sonntag quoted Editor-in-Chief Walter Mayer as saying that “the Iranian authorities know perfectly well that they are journalists and nothing else.”