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Germany urges release of reporters jailed in Iran

BERLIN (Reuters) - One hundred German political and business leaders published an appeal to Iran on Sunday to free two German reporters held in Iran since October.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was among members of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet to join opposition leaders and celebrities in the appeal, published over 15 pages in German weekly Bild am Sonntag.

“The two must be released as soon as possible and returned home to Germany,” said Westerwelle, whose appeal was echoed by Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

The two reporters for Bild am Sonntag were arrested while interviewing Sajjad Ghaderzadehson, the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman sentenced to death for adultery. Her case has sparked global outrage and highlighted concerns about Iran’s human rights record.

Iran says the German reporters did not have permission to work as journalists in the country.

Also joining the appeal in Bild am Sonntag were Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann, Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche, Deutsche Telekom chief executive Rene Obermann, German football association president Theo Zwanziger, former tennis player Boris Becker and publisher Hubert Burda.

Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; editing by Philippa Fletcher