A woman who claimed to be Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, an imprisoned Iranian woman who faces execution for the crime of adultery, despite solid evidence that she is innocent, appeared yesterday on Iranian primetime television. The woman confessed to being an accomplice in her husband's murder. The TV program pixilated the woman's face and used a voice over because Ashtiani speaks Azeri Turkish instead of Farsi, according to the Associated Press. In addition to the confession, she condemned the western media for interfering in her personal life and criticized her lawyer, Mohammad Mostafei, for publicizing her case.
The International Committee Against Stoning believes the footage to be "toxic propaganda," according to Reuters. Even if the woman was Ashtiani, Mostafei suspects that the she had been coerced into appearing on the program. "Her life is in the hands of the people who have power in Iran, and whatever they want, they can achieve. It is a normal thing for Iranian TV to say lies," he said. Additionally, Ashtiani maintained her innocence a few days ago in an interview with the Guardian. Mostafei fears that officials will now "misuse her statements to justify her execution."
Drewery Dyke, from Amnesty International's Iran team, said "this [video] makes a complete mockery of the judiciary system in Iran. Iran is inventing crimes...it is an unacceptable practice that flies in the face of justice."
This case began in 2006, when Ashtiani was convicted of having extramarital relations with two men who killed her husband, according to Huliq. While she initially received a sentence of 99 lashes for adultery, during an appeal of her case, the court sentenced Ashtiani to death by stoning. Her case has caused international outrage due to the inconclusive evidence presented and the barbaric nature of execution by stoning. The stoning sentence was soon commuted as a result of international pressure, but Ashtiani could still be executed by hanging. As a result of the high profile nature of the case, Ashtiani's lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, is currently seeking political asylum in Oslo, Norway and faces a warrant for his arrest in Iran.