A television program on Press TV, backed by the Iranian government, will air an interview today of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an Iranian woman sentenced to death for adultery. The segment of “Iran Today” brought Ashtiani back to her home to recreate a visual representation of her husband’s death at the crime site and reportedly contains a new confession in which Ashtiani claims to have plotted her husband’s murder.
Philip Luther, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program at Amnesty International, stated “If the authorities are seeking to use this ‘confession’ to try to construct a new case against her, for a crime that she’s already been tried and sentenced for, we would condemn this in the strongest terms… It appears that the Iranian authorities are using the Iranian media as a tool to portray her as a dangerous criminal who deserves to be executed. ”
In 2006, Ashtiani was convicted of murdering her husband and sentenced to a 10-year prison term. The sentence was later reduced to a five-year term for complicity in his murder. Ashtiani was also convicted of having extramarital relations and initially received a sentence of 99 lashes for adultery. However, during an appeal of her case, the court changed the sentence to death by stoning. After worldwide outrage, this sentence was commuted to death by hanging.
Ashtiani’s hanging was scheduled for early November, but as a result of massive international protest, her execution was suspended. According to Iranian officials, her file is “under review,” but the regime has been known to execute people whose files were under review in the past. Prominent political figures, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, have issued statements expressing concern and dismay over Ashtiani’s treatment.