Has Ashtiani been freed? New photos sow confusion
Iran state TV claims she was released only to make a TV confession - but that story has now vanished
There was confusion this morning over the fate of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, after pictures were released of her with her son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, at home together in northwest Iran.
Ashtiani and Ghaderzadeh were believed to be in prison, she in Tabriz, where she has languished since her ordeal started in 2005, and he in an unspecified location, where he has been since his arrest during an interview with two German journalists.
But pictures released by Iran's state-run Press TV (above) show the two smiling and apparently at ease at her home in the town of Osku.
The pictures immediately led to reports that Ashtiani, who was first sentenced to death by stoning for adultery before the Iranian regime commuted the penalty to hanging, had finally been released.
Ashtiani's case has provoked global outrage and put the Iranian government firmly on the defensive over its treatment of women. Ashtiani had more recently been accused of murdering her husband, in an apparent attempt to justify her death sentence. Reports of her release sparked jubilation across the world.
But Press TV soon poured cold water on celebrations at her release, saying in an article on its website that a television crew had taken Ashtiani and her son back to her home in order to create a documentary in which she would confess to the murder of her husband.
A story on the Press TV website read: "Contrary to a vast publicity campaign by Western media that confessed murderer Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been released, a team of broadcast production team with the Iran-based Press TV has arranged with Iran's judicial authorities to follow Ashtiani to her house to produce a visual recount of the crime at the murder scene.
"Press TV's Iran Today program, will shed light on the highways and byways of the murder account with multiple interviews with people and individuals involved in the case."
However, to add further confusion to Ashtiani's situation, the story has now been removed from the site, although a cached version of the story can be viewed here.
Whatever the truth of the matter, there are some who think this cruel treatment of Ashtiani may backfire on the Iranian regime.
After Press TV removed its statement this morning, Mina Ahadi, spokesperson for the International Committee Against Stoning, told The First Post that the Iranians have shot themselves in the foot by playing these "outrageous" games with Ashtiani."The government wasn't expecting this sort of backlash so they're trying to fix what they've done."They themselves have said this news has become another pressure on the reigime for ther release." ·
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