Iranian state television has broadcast a purported murder confession from Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman whose sentencing to death by stoning for adultery ignited international outrage.

In the interview televised late Wednesday, a woman identified as Ashtiani described her husband's killing, admitting that she was an unwitting accomplice to his murder.


Iranian state TV has broadcast a purported murder confesion from Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery in 2006. That sentence was commuted after international outcry. ((Amnesty International/Associated Press))

The woman's face was blurred and her words were voiced over in what the TV report said was a translation into Farsi from Azeri Turkish, which is spoken in parts of Iran.

"I established telephone contacts with a man in 2005," she said. "He deceived me by his language.... He told me, 'Let's kill your husband.' I could not believe at all that my husband would be killed. I thought he was joking.... Later I learned that killing was his profession."

She said the man, whom she did not identify, brought electrical devices, wire and gloves to her house and electrocuted her husband while she watched.

Malek Ajdar Sharifi, a senior judiciary official, was quoted by state TV as part of the same report alleging that Ashtiani had given her husband an injection that left him unconscious, then the man attached electrical devices to his neck and killed him.

Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two, was imprisoned in 2006 after she was charged and convicted of adultery. She was sentenced to death by stoning, but that sentence was commuted to hanging following strong international criticism.

Wednesday's purported confession was seen as an effort by Iran to ward off international pressures and possibly to draw attention to the murder allegation, a crime that is punishable by death in the U.S. and other countries as well.

Ashtiani was tortured before TV appearance: lawyer

In the interview, the woman also criticized one of her lawyers, Mohammad Mostafaei, for publicizing her case by maintaining a blog that drew thousands of international visitors.

"Why did he televise the case? Why did he discredit me before my family members and relatives who didn't know I'm in jail?" she said. "Now, I have complaint against him."

Mostafaei has fled Iran for Norway, where he has applied for asylum.

But another of her lawyers said Ashtiani was tortured and beaten severely for two days before agreeing to make a confession on television.

With files from the CBC's Nahlah Ayed