Iran releases two German journalists

Written by: Bno
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TEHRAN: Iran on Saturday released two German journalists who were held last year after entering the country on tourist visas, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

The two German nationals were found guilty and sentenced to 20 months in prison on charges of acting against Iran's national security, but the judge commuted their punishment to an equivalent fine of $50,000 in an "act of Islamic kindness and compassion." One of them was exonerated from access and collection of classified intelligence information.

The reporter and photographer from the Bild am Sonntag newspaper, Marcus Hellwig, 45, and Jens Koch, 29, had been in custody since October 10, in the northwestern city of Tabriz, German DPA news agency reported.

The reporters interviewed the son of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, who has been jailed on charges of adultery and collaboration in the murder of her husband. According to Fars news agency, however, the two German nationals posed as journalists.

"The two Germans have acknowledged their offense, saying that claiming to be journalists was not right," Iran's Prosecutor-General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejeii told reporters in mid October.

Ejeii revealed that the two detainees had ties with hostile anti-Islamic Republic elements operating from outside the country.

Germany's Foreign Ministry confirmed that the two journalists were released following their trial, Press TV reported. Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle arrived in Tehran on Saturday to hold talks about bilateral ties between the two countries.


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