Apology could help case of detained German journalists, says Iran
Iranian acting Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said it could help the case of two Germans, arrested for conducting journalistic work in Iran on tourist visas, if their employer issued an apology, in a media interview released Saturday.
The reporter and photographer from Bild am Sonntag newspaper have been in custody since October 10, after seeking to interview the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, who was previously jailed on charges of adultery and involvement in the murder of her husband.
"It could ... be a helpful gesture if the publisher and chief editors recognized that they made a mistake, and apologize for it," Salehi told Spiegel news magazine in an interview to be published Monday.
Salehi said the Iranian Foreign Ministry was "trying to remove obstacles that could lead to delays and complications," with regards to the men's judicial process.
However he warned Berlin against inciting the situation further, in light of criticism over Mohammadi-Ashtiani's recent announcement on Iranian television that she planned to sue the journalists for exploiting her case.
"Refrain from insulting words and interpretations. We are doing our best to solve the case quickly," Salehi told Spiegel.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle thanked Teheran for its willingness to find a speedy solution, and said Salehi's offer of help was a positive signal.
"I will not refrain in my efforts, in order that our two compatriots can return home," Westerwelle told Bild am Sonntag. "We will take all sensible and appropriate measures to enable their return as soon as possible.
Salehi said he has held at least five telephone conversations with Westerwelle about the matter, and invited his German colleague to Teheran, dpa reported.
"We should talk about everything - including this case - with mutual respect," Salehi said.