Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who is facing death by stoning in Iran over alleged adultery allegation, accused Tehran authorities in of fabricating the charges against her in an attempt to execute her in secret.
In an exclusive interview with the British Guardian, which took place through an intermediary who the London newspaper did not name, citing security reasons, Ashtiani said the authorities were lying: "They are embarrassed by the international attention on my case and they are desperately trying to distract attention and confuse the media so that they can kill me in secret."
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On Friday, Mossadegh Kahnemoui, a senior Iranian judicial official, told the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that, "This lady, in addition to double adultery, is also found guilty of conspiracy to murder her husband."
Mohammadi Ashtiani said: "I was found guilty of adultery and was acquitted of murder, but the man who actually killed my husband was identified and imprisoned but he is not sentenced to death."
The accused, who was not named, is not facing execution because Ashtiani's son pardoned him. She, however, was sentenced to death after a local prosecutor in Tabriz accused her of adultery.
'They think they can do anything to women here'"The answer is quite simple, it's because I'm a woman, it's because they think they can do anything to women in this country," she told the Guardian.
"It's because for them adultery is worse than murder – but not all kinds of adultery: an adulterous man might not even be imprisoned but an adulterous women is the end of the world for them. It's because I'm in a country where its women do not have the right to divorce their husbands and are deprived of their basic rights.
"When the judge handed down my sentence, I even didn't realize I'm supposed to be stoned to death because I didn't know what 'rajam' means," she continued. "They asked me to sign my sentence which I did, then I went back to the prison and my cellmates told me that I was going to be stoned to death and I instantly fainted."
Ashtiani added that she fears that the exile of her lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, has made her more vulnerable to authorities: "They wanted to get rid of my lawyer so that they can easily accuse me of whatever they want without having him to speak out. If it was not for his attempts, I would have been stoned to death by now."
Mostafaei took on the case voluntarily, and succeeded in bringing her case to world attention. He was forces to flee to Turkey when Iranian authorities issued a warrant for his arrest. His wife is being held without charge in Tehran's notorious Evin prison. Mostafaei is reportedly on his way to Norway.
Describing life inside Tabriz prison, Ashtiani said she has been subject to constant mistreatment by prison guards.
In the interview, she thanked campaigners and said international pressure was her only hope for release: "For all these years, they (the officials) have tried to put something in my mind, to convince me that I'm an adulterous woman, an irresponsible mother, a criminal but with the international support, once again I'm finding myself, my innocent self."
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