Middle East

Iran says detained Germans "admit they broke the law"

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani (file photo)
Image caption Ms Ashtiani had said she was forced to confess to the charges of adultery

Iran says two Germans have admitted to breaking the law after they were arrested for interviewing the son of a woman sentenced to be stoned to death for adultery.

Iran's public prosecutor, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejei, said the two had confessed to working as reporters in the country without the proper visas.

Iran has not said what charges the pair may face.

Germany has said it is doing all it can to try to secure their release.

Mr Ejei said the Germans had entered the country on tourist visas, "in co-operation with hostile groups abroad".

"The two Germans have acknowledged their offence, saying that claiming to be journalists was not right," Mr Ejei said, according to the website of the state-run Press TV.

They travelled to the north-western city of Tabriz, where they interviewed the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani - the 43-year-old Iranian woman whose sentence to be stoned for adultery has sparked international condemnation.

That sentence was suspended in July this year, but last month, reports emerged that Iranian courts were instead considering hanging her for the murder of her husband.

Ms Ashtiani's lawyers insist she is innocent.

Hiker trial

Also on Friday, Iran's minister of intelligence said two US men who had been imprisoned for more than a year were spies who should await their trial.

Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal were arrested in late July last year along Iran's border with Iraq where their families say they were hiking. Their companion, Sarah Shourd, was freed last month on humanitarian grounds and has returned to the US.

"The two American detainees accused of spying should wait to stand trial and for the legal verdict," Heidar Moslehi said, according to the official news agency Irna.

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