Jewish voices join call for for Ashtiani release

By Jennifer Lipman, December 13, 2010
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Jewish politicians, comedians and writers are among those who have signed a letter demanding that Iran release Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the widowed mother-of-two sentenced to death by stoning for adultery and murder.

The letter, published in The Times, comes just days after the Iranian regime appeared to have freed her, only for it to be revealed as a stunt to get her to re-enact the murder in her former home. The “documentary” was broadcast on the Iranian-backed channel Press TV.

Among the signatories of the letter were British scientist Lord Winston and Bernard Kouchner, former French Foreign Minister and the co-founder of humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières.

The Booker prize-winning novelist Howard Jacobson signed the letter, as did comedian Matt Lucas, television presenter Claudia Winkleman and Sir Nicholas Serota, the director of the Tate gallery .

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy also gave his support, as did Labour leader Ed Miliband and his brother David.

It is widely believed that Ms Ashtiani’s confession of her husband’s murder was made under duress. Her lawyer has been forced to flee Iran for his own safety, while her son was arrested for making the case public.

In November Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Jalil Mohebby told a newspaper: “The story of [Ashtiani] was blown up by the Americans, the British and the Zionists”.

Last updated: 3:54pm, December 13 2010