Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani FREED; Iran Stoning Woman Let Go, German Campaign Group Says [UPDATE: Iran Contradicts Report; Ashtiani's Status Unclear]
UPDATE: Iran state television now denies that Ashtiani has been released. Developing...
Iran has reportedly freed Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman sentenced to death by stoning, after global outrage spurred campaigns around the world. The AFP is reporting that a German rights group is claiming she is at home.
"We have got news from Iran that they are free," Mina Ahadi, spokeswoman for the Anti-Stoning Committee, is quoted as saying. According to the Guardian, rumors of the decision have been floating since a televised appearance:
Images from state-run Press TV showed her meeting her son Sajjad at her house in their hometown of Osku in northwestern Iran, boosting supporters' hopes that she had been released.
The move came just weeks after Iran signalled for the first time that it might spare the life of Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, a mother of two who has been in Tabriz prison since 2006 and faced execution by stoning for "having an illicit relationship outside marriage."
In November, Iran's human rights council stated that Ashtiani might be spared, leading to renewed hopes that she would not be killed.
Ashtiani was first sentenced in 2006 for "adultery while being married" and given 99 lashes.
Had the sentence gone as planned, she would have been buried up to her chest and then pelted with stones, according to Amnesty International. The stones should "not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes; nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones, " according to Iranian law, the group reports.
The Guardian quoted Ahadi as saying:
This is the happiest day in my life. I'm very happy for her son, Sajad, who fought single-handedly and bravely in Iran to defend his mother and tell the world that she is innocent. I'm sure that this day will be written in Iranian history books, if not the world's, as a day of victory for human rights campaigners.