Iran to air new tape of condemned woman
High-profile Canadian women support Ashtiani
Iran's state TV said Friday it would air new footage of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, the latest state-orchestrated broadcast on a case that has raised an international outcry.
The footage, to be broadcast late Friday, shows Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani at her home in northwestern Iran giving a re-enactment of the murder of her husband, in which Iranian officials say she had a role, according to English-language Press TV.
There had been confusion Thursday about Ashtiani's status. Iran seemed to indicate she might be released, but turned out that authorities were taking her out of jail temporarily so she could be part of the new broadcast.
Ashtiani has the support of high-profile women in Canada, who spoke out about the latest development.
In Ottawa, Laureen Harper, wife of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, released a statement Friday expressing disappointment that Iran had not released Ashtiani and asking Iran to respect its human rights obligations and abolish the sentence of stoning.
"Iran’s treatment of Ms. Ashtiani remains an affront to women around the world," said Harper. "The free women here in Canada and around the world will not rest until Ms. Ashtiani and other women unjustly imprisoned in Iran are freed and their human rights respected."
In Toronto, Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo Books, told CBC News that Ashtiani's plight is "more than frustrating. It's incredibly sad."
"They are torturing this woman. She is in prison. She has been in there for five years. None of the facts are clear about the case. They've arrested her son for no reason other than he is trying to save her, and now they are manipulating the entire situation because they know world opinion is watching them," Reisman said.
"What is important that we keep the spotlight on and that we hold Iran accountable."
Iran has attempted to counter the world outcry, both by depicting Ashtiani as a murderer and by accusing the West of stirring up controversy to damage Iran's Islamic leadership.
Ashtiani has been brought out several times before on Iranian TV, including one time to confess to the murder — though her lawyer at the time and human rights groups outside Iran contended the confession was forced.
In the new footage, the 43-year-old mother was brought to her home outside the city of Tabriz to "produce a visual recount of the crime at the murder scene," according to state-run Press TV.
It appeared that Ashtiani's face would be shown for the first time in the footage. In previous video of her aired on state TV, her face was blurred, but Press TV released still photos taken from the latest video showing her face, wearing a scarf over her hair, as she stands in various rooms of her home and, in one photo, wipes tears. The only previous picture of Ashtiani is an undated photo.
Ashtiani was first convicted in May 2006 of having an "illicit relationship" with two men after the death of her husband, and a court in Tabriz sentenced her to 99 lashes. Later that year, she was also convicted of adultery, despite having retracted the confession she claims was made under duress.Iran has temporarily suspended the stoning verdict and suggested Ashtiani might be hanged instead.
With files from The Associated Press