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Iranian TV: Woman who faced stoning recounts husband's murder

A European human rights group on Thursday backed off its earlier claim that an Iranian woman who had been sentenced to death by stoning had been freed along with her son.
Image: A picture released by Iran's state-run P
A picture released Thursday by Iran's state-run Press TV shows Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani with her son Sajjad at an undisclosed location in Tabriz, Iran. - / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: news services

An Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning was shown at her home with her son not because she was freed, as reported in Western media, but because she was recounting details of killing her husband, Iranian TV said Friday.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani accompanied a production team, said Iran-based Press TV, which said it arranged for the interview with Iran's judicial authorities.

Press TV's "Iran Today" program will shed light on the case with multiple interviews with people involved, it said.

Sajjad Asgharzadeh, Ashtiani's son, and her lawyer, Houtan Kian, are among individuals Press TV said its production team interviewed.

Earlier Thursday, some Western media outlets and the International Committee Against Stoning, a rights group based in Germany, said Ashtiani has been released from prison.

The rights group had said it had heard from "sources in Iran" that Ashtiani had been freed along with her son. It later backed off the claim when it could not confirm Ashtiani's freedom.

Ashtiani's son, lawyer and two German journalists had been arrested after trying to interview Ashtiani. 

Ashtiani was sentenced to stoning for adultery — the only crime that carries that penalty under Iran's Islamic law. Following an international outcry, officials said that sentence had been suspended.

Ashtiani was found guilty of murdering her husband, Ibrahim Asgharzadeh, in collusion with another man, Isa Taheri, whom she had an affair with before the murder, Press TV said.

She could still be hanged for complicity in her husband's murder.

Press TV said the photos released were taken ahead of an interview that will form part of its program.

In one picture, they are holding hands and looking unsmilingly at each other. In another they stand in the yard of her home in Oskou, 354 miles northwest of Tehran, again with neutral expressions. There was no indication of when the pictures were taken.

In a short preview clip she is seen to say: "We planned to kill my husband," said the Guardian newspaper in London.

Ashtiani has appeared on Iranian TV before. In an interview broadcast in August she described her relationship with the man who murdered her husband. Her words were voiced over in the main Iranian language Farsi as she speaks a regional dialect and her face was blurred.

The International Committee Against Stoning said on Nov. 2 it had learned Ashtiani would be hanged the next day, but that did not happen.

Last month, the head of Iran's Council of Human Rights said he thought there was "a good chance that her life could be saved."

The case has worsened relations between Iran and the West, already seriously damaged by a dispute over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva offered asylum to Ashtiani in July, prompting a public rejection of his offer by Iran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the stoning sentence was a fabrication by a hostile foreign media.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.