Son of Iranian woman sentenced to death urges clemency
TABRIZ, Iran (Reuters) - An Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery was allowed out on prison leave to have dinner with her daughter and son on Saturday, hours after he had appealed to the judiciary to spare her life.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's sentence to be stoned to death was suspended after an international outcry, but she still faces possible execution by hanging.
After having dinner with her children at the same place where her son Sajjad Ghaderzadeh had earlier talked to reporters, Ashtiani said she was not tortured while in prison, adding "these are all rumors."
"Whatever interview I have given so far, I have given voluntarily. No one has forced me. I have spoken on my own accord," she told reporters.
Ghaderzadeh, who faces his own court case after talking to two German reporters about his mother's sentence, told foreign media earlier on Saturday his mother had violated Islamic law but called for compassion and forgiveness.
"In my opinion my mother is also guilty but since we have lost our father we do not want to lose our mother too. Consequently, we ask for a commutation of the penalty," he told reporters in the city of Tabriz, in northwestern Iran.
It was not immediately clear when Ashtiani, found guilty of adultery and accused of being complicit in her husband's murder would return to prison. While having dinner, the mother spoke to her children in the Turkish dialect of their home province.
Ghaderzadeh told the news conference: "The stoning sentence is on the file but it may not be carried out. At least this is what we are hoping."
Two reporters from the German tabloid Bild am Sonntag were arrested in October while interviewing Ghaderzadeh after entering Iran on tourist visas. Berlin has called for them to be released.
Ashtiani said the Germans had "embarrassed" her, but did not say exactly why.
"I have a complaint about the two Germans who have embarrassed me. Why did they come here? Why did they come here and pose as journalists?" she told reporters.
Ghaderzadeh was released on $40,000 bail on December 12 while a court considers his case.
Iranian officials say Ashtiani's case is purely a matter for the judiciary. It has become an international cause and more than 80 world artists, academics and politicians have called for her release.
(Editing by Matthew Jones)