GREAT NEWS! Iran 'allegedly' frees woman sentenced to death by stoning

TEHRAN, Iran — A European human rights group said on Thursday an Iranian woman who had been sentenced to death by stoning had been freed, but there was no confirmation from Iran.

MSNBC — The International Committee Against Stoning, based in Germany, said it had heard from “sources in Iran” that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani had been freed.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini welcomed the “excellent news” although the ministry said the comment was based on the committee’s report which it was trying to verify.

Ashtiani’s son, her lawyer, Houtan Kian, and two German journalists had been arrested after trying to interview Ashtiani. The Germans were also released, The Guardian reported.

Ashtiani was sentenced to stoning for adultery — the only crime which carries that penalty under Iran’s Islamic law. Following an international outcry, officials said that sentence had been suspended but that she could still be hanged for complicity in her husband’s murder.

Fuelling speculation of Ashtiani’s freedom was a trailer broadcast on Iran’s state-run English language Press TV advertising a program to be broadcast at midnight (2030 GMT) on Friday about Ashtiani. It did not indicate she had been freed.

Press TV also released photographs of Ashtiani and her adult son Sajjad Ghaderzadeh — who has also been in detention since meeting German reporters in October — which it said were taken ahead of an interview which will form part of the program.