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Germans charged with espionage in Iran meet with families

From Mitra Mobasherat, CNN
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the West of overhyping an Iranian woman's death sentence.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has accused the West of overhyping an Iranian woman's death sentence.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The German nationals were arrested in October in Tabriz
  • They are accused of posing as journalists to interview relatives of a convicted woman
  • The family members traveled to Iran on Friday

(CNN) -- Two German journalists charged with espionage in Iran for interviewing the son and lawyer of a woman condemned to die by stoning have met with family members, Iranian officials said Tuesday.

The meeting took place Monday night in the northwest city of Tabriz -- where the German nationals were arrested, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters at his weekly news conference.

"On the basis of humanitarian grounds, this meeting has been made possible," Mehmanparast said.

The families also met with Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's foreign minister.

The relatives traveled to Iran on Friday accompanied by Brand Erbel, the German Ambassador to Tehran, Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

"The status of their case depends on the legal proceedings and the judiciary officials proceeding. If they have not committed a crime, then they will be released. And if they have, then they will be dealt with properly," Mehmanparast said Tuesday.

The two men, identified only as a reporter and photojournalist, were arrested in October after they interviewed the son and lawyer of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who was convicted of adultery in 2006 and sentenced to death by stoning.

"Their reports and propaganda in Tabriz proved that they are in the country for spying," Malek Ajdar Shafiee, the head of the Justice Department of East Azarbaijan, was quoted as saying by Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency.