Celebrities sign open letter urging Iran to release ‘death by stoning’ woman

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

TEHRAN - International celebrities including Hollywood actors Robert Redford, Robert De Niro, and English musician Sting have signed an open letter urging Iran to release Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman who had been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, saying that ’she had suffered enough’.

According to the Daily Mail, the open letter, which was published in The Times on Monday, was signed by over 80 actors, artists, musicians, academics and politicians.

Other signatories include actor Colin Firth, artist Damien Hirst, Nobel literature laureates Wole Soyinka and V.S. Naipaul, British opposition leader Ed Miliband and former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, the paper said.

The dignitaries called on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to release her along with her son and lawyer, who are also imprisoned.

“We, the undersigned, call on the government of Iran to release immediately Ms Ashtiani, her son Sajad Ghaderzade, and her lawyer, Javid Houtan Kian, from incarceration,” the letter read.

Last month, human rights campaigners had condemned an Iranian television channel for airing a programme projecting Ashtiani as apparently discussing her role in the murder of her husband.

Forty-three-year-old Ashtiani was convicted in 2006 of having an ‘illicit relationship’ with two men following the murder of her husband in 2005. She was later convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning.

She has already spent five years in prison, and suffered 99 lashes, while the man who was convicted of her husband’s murder, and with whom she allegedly had an affair, is now free, having been pardoned by Ms Ashtiani’s children. (ANI)

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