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Amnesty International Demands Release of Lawyer and Son in Iranian Stoning Case
Organization Says the Two Apparently Were Taken Into Custody After an Interview to Publicize the Case
WASHINGTON - November 3 - Amnesty International today called on the Iranian authorities to immediately release the lawyer and son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman being held on death row and at risk of execution by stoning. The human rights organization said the lawyer and son appear to have been taken into custody solely for trying to publicize the woman's plight and save her life.
Two German nationals appear to have been conducting an interview with the lawyer, Javid Houtan Kiyan, and Sakineh Ashtiani's son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, in Kiyan's office when all four were arrested, according to reports received by Amnesty International.
The developments came to light amid increased international concern for Sakineh Ashtiani, 43, and the mother of two, who has been held on death row since her conviction in 2006 on charges of "adultery while married."
"She has been left for weeks without legal representation and without access to any family visits, which makes her situation all the more precarious," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of Amnesty International's Middle East and North Africa Program.
The Iranian State Prosecutor, in his role as spokesperson for the judiciary, confirmed on Monday that Kiyan had been arrested on October 10 and that he was still under investigation for links to "anti-revolutionary groups abroad." He also said that Kiyan had been found in possession of three forged or duplicate identification cards.
"We fear that Javid Houtan Kiyan may have been detained for no more than fulfilling his responsibilities as Sakineh Ashtiani's lawyer, and for talking to foreign nationals," said Amnesty International's Sahraoui. "His detention- part of the Iranian authorities ongoing targeting of defense lawyers - further undermines an already deeply flawed justice system that has failed Sakineh Ashtiani from the start."
The Iranian authorities have not confirmed either the arrest or the whereabouts of Sakineh Ashtiani's son. Amnesty International has been unable to contact him since and believes he too has indeed been arrested.
Sahraoui said the lawyer and son should be granted immediate access to their family and lawyers of their choice.
The Iranian authorities have a track record of bringing politically-motivated trumped up criminal charges against defense lawyers.
The State Prosecutor Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei confirmed on October 11 that two foreign nationals had been arrested. On Monday he said that the two Germans had been granted consular access.
"It is hard to see that Javid Houtan Kiyan and Sajjad Qaderzadeh have been arrested for any other reason than because they wanted to publicize Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's continuing plight and to save her life," said Sahraoui. "If so, they are prisoners of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally, along with anyone else held for similar reasons."
On October 12, the Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Ramin Mehmanparast, said that the two German nationals had entered the country on tourist visas and had no journalistic accreditation, adding that they had been arrested because they had a link to a "foreign anti-revolution network."