Iranian state TV broadcast a statement last night by the woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, in which she described herself as a “sinner”.
Appearing on TV for the third time since her case caught the world’s attention, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, also accused Mina Ahadi, an activist of the German-based International Committee Against Stoning (Icas), of spreading her story around the world.
The report also broadcast purported statements by two men whose faces were blurred. State TV identified them as Ashtiani’s son, Sajjad Qaderzadeh, 22, and her lawyer, Houtan Kian, both of whom were arrested last month.
Ahadi has highlighted Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case through the committee and has been successful in bringing it to the world’s attention. The broadcast, on Iran‘s Channel 2, portrayed Ahadi as “a communist dissident exiled in Germany”, who had taken advantage of Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case for her own benefit.
Two German journalists arrested on 10 October also “confessed” during the broadcast that they had received orders from Ahadi.
During the programme, Mohammadi Ashtiani reiterated her previous televised “confessions” that she was involved in the murder of her husband. “I am a sinner,” she said.
Her face was blurred and the interview, conducted in her native Azeri language, was subtitled in Farsi. Previously, Iranian officials have tried to distract attention from the sentence of stoning by portraying Mohammadi Ashtiani as a murderer and not mentioning the charge of adultery over which she has been imprisoned since 2006.
The programme said that Mohammadi Ashtiani’s case was promoted around the world by her lawyers, Mohammad Mostafaei, and later Kian, because “they were looking for excuses to claim asylum in western countries”. Mostafaei, Mohammadi Ashtiani’s first lawyer, was arrested and subsequently forced to leave Iran after giving interviews to foreign press including the Guardian. He is now in Norway.
Kian, a government appointed lawyer for Mohammadi Ashtiani, began to represent her after Mostafaei, but contrary to the government’s will, became outspoken and defended her.
Kian, who has been jailed since October, claimed that Mohammadi Ashtiani was beaten and tortured before appearing on TV for the first time.
Qaderzadeh, a bus conductor in Tabriz, said in the programme: “He [Kian] told me to say she [Mohammadi Ashtiani] was tortured … Unfortunately, I listened to him and told lies to the foreign media.
In response to his remarks, Kian said in the programme: “Telling lies to foreign media was my recommendation to Sajjad.”
Ahadi told the Guardian last night: “They are not just attacking me, they are attacking our committee and everybody who successfully brought her case to the world’s attention and, at least for now, managed to stop Iran form stoning her. If it wasn’t for the world’s attention, Sakineh would have been executed by now, that is what’s making them angry.”
She added: “I can’t understand what they mean by ‘the normal procedure?’ Is stoning someone to death a normal procedure in their opinion? Sajjad knew he might be forced to confess on TV by defending his mother but nothing stopped him until he was arrested, I’m not surprised at all to hear these confessions from him and I can imagine how much all of these people were tortured to do so.”
The two German journalists who appeared on the programme, who were not identified, admitted to their “illegal acts”. One of them said: “Mina Ahadi sent me to Iran because she knew she would benefit from my arrest and I’ll sue her when I get back to Germany.”
Iran’s English language TV channel, Press TV, reported on Monday that according to Iran’s East Azerbaijan Prosecutor Malek Ajdar Sharifi “the behaviour of the Germans showed they entered Iran as spies and tried to create negative atmosphere against Iran and the East Azerbaijan judiciary.”
Iran has repeatedly said that it is yet undecided over Mohammadi Ashtiani and that her case is still under review.