TEHRAN // Two Germans arrested last month as they tried to interview the son of a woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery came to Iran for "espionage", an official said yesterday.
"These two Germans came to Iran claiming to be tourists," said Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the justice department chief of East Azerbaijan province, the Fars news agency quoted.
"But the work of these two tourists in Iran and Tabriz, and the way they reported in Tabriz, shows that they came for espionage," he said. "The evidence for espionage was in their hands when arrested and they were planning a smear campaign against the Islamic republic."
On Monday, Iranian state-run television showed blurred footage of the two men "confessing" that they had been "tricked" into coming to Iran. According to a voiceover, the detainees pointed fingers at Mina Ahadi, an Iranian human rights activist. Ms Ahadi has launched a global campaign to halt the stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani.
"I will sue Ms Ahadi when I am back in Germany," one of the detainees was quoted as saying.
"I accept I made a mistake. Since I had no information on the case, I was tricked by Ms Ahadi," the other man was quoted as saying.