100 prominent Germans call on Iran to free reporters

Critics also direct wrath at Teheran’s nuclear threats against Israel, say Germany's policy toward Iran has been too soft.

January 4, 2011 04:47
1 minute read.
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Prison jail generic. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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BERLIN – The mass circulation Bild am Sonntag newspaper jump-started a solidarity media campaign on Sunday to call for the release of two German journalists imprisoned in Iran.

“Let both reporters free” was the headline by Bild am Sonntag, which devoted 12 pages of quotes from a Who’s Who of German society demanding the immediate release of the incarcerated journalists.

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Wolf Biermann, a popular German poet and folk singer, also called for the Iranian civil society to overthrow the Iranian regime and blasted Teheran for its threat to annihilate Israel.

The journalists, Marcus Hellwig and Jens Koch, work for the Bild am Sonntag and were arrested in mid-October for interviewing family members of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman sentenced to death by stoning for alleged adultery.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble called for the release of the reporters in the paper. Former star tennis player Boris Becker said “there is no justification for holding both of these men in this way. Let them at last free!”

Biermann, who is known as the Bob Dylan of Germany, said in Bild am Sonntag that “it would be a beautiful day when the dictator in Iran is overthrown, most suitably from the Iranian people themselves…

“I am afraid of the final atomic bomb directed at tiny Israel. That is, the announced attempt to stone the Jewish people with modern technology. I stand on the side of those who defend both of these reporters.“

Biermann is the son of a German Jew who was murdered by the Nazis in Auschwitz.

Critics have accused Germany’s Iran policy as being too soft toward the Iranian government’s seizure of the reporters, who initially were charged with espionage and now are facing an indictment for travelling without proper visas.

Mina Ahadi, a prominent Iranian dissident living in Cologne, told the Berliner Zeitung daily on Monday that for Germany, “it is time to end the cuddling-up diplomacy” with Teheran.

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