Iran: Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani Ordered to Name Campaigners


Iran has put fresh pressure on the woman it last month sentenced to death by stoning, demanding the names of those involved in the campaign for her release. The case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has drawn international attention after her children launched a campaign for her release.Iran's judiciary said Sakineh would not be put to death by stoning, but still faced execution by hanging. The 43-year-old mother of two has been interrogated inside Tabriz prison over the names of the people who have been in touch with her family and the way her photo has been distributed among the media, the Guardian has learned. Sakineh's photo, which has been distributed all over the world, has become a defining image for human rights activists campaigning against stoning in Iran.

"Sakineh has been under big pressure since the world has paid attention to her case", a source close to her family told the Guardian. "Recently she was questioned and asked to advise her children to remain silent, otherwise they will be arrested too. International attention is the only hope for Sakineh's release", the source added. Sakineh's lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, has received a letter from the Iranian intelligence service summoning him to a meeting in Evin prison in the next three days to "clarify certain issues". Mostafaei is an acclaimed lawyer who volunteered to represent Sakineh when he heard her story.

Sakineh received 99 lashes, but was subsequently accused of adultery during the trial of a man accused of murdering her husband. Iran's judiciary has said Sakineh faces execution by hanging because she is "convicted of murder". Mostafaei has issued a statement saying that Sakineh has been acquitted of murdering her husband, and the execution by hanging has not been mentioned in her final official sentence. He has been told that her case will be reviewed in a high court in next 20 days, but Sakineh's fate is currently unclear.

Unlike many stoning cases in Iran, where the woman convicted of adultery is abandoned by her family, Sakineh's children have launched a strong defence of their mother. Her 22-year-old son, Sajad, who initially wrote an open letter pleading for his mother's release, has been asked by Iranian officials to switch off his mobile and not to talk to media. He has been summoned to the Iranian intelligence service twice in the last week. Last week, Iran imposed a media blackout over Mohammadi Ashtiani's death sentence, banning newspapers, agencies and TV Channels in Iran from reporting any news about her case.

A campaign website for Sakineh,, has attracted more than 120,000 signatories since last week. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Michael Bloomberg, Michael Douglas, Shirin Ebadi, Peter Gabriel, Hanif Kureishi, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Ian McEwan and David Remnick are among those backing the campaign.

By Saeed Kamali Dehghan