Iran says will not stone woman to death after outcry
Fri, Jul 09, 2010

LONDON - Iran has announced that a woman will not be stoned to death after being convicted of adultery following an international outcry, a paper reported Friday.

The Islamic republic's London embassy issued a statement, saying "according to information from the relevant judicial authorities in Iran [Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani] will not be executed by stoning," according to Britain's Times daily.

But the statement did not say whether the 43-year-old would be spared or executed by hanging instead, added the paper.

Human rights group Amnesty International has said she was convicted in 2006 or 2007 and has previously received a flogging of 99 lashes.

The United States and Britain have led global condemnation of the planned stoning execution.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Thursday labelled the punishment "medieval", saying it would "disgust and appal" the rest of the world.

"I'm appalled by reports of the imminent execution," he said.

"I think that stoning is a medieval punishment that has no place in the modern world and the continued use of such a punishment in Iran demonstrates in our view a blatant disregard for human rights."

"I think if this punishment were carried out, it would disgust and appal the watching world," he added.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said: "Stoning as a means of execution is tantamount to torture. It's barbaric and an abhorrent act."

"We condemn in the strongest terms the use of the practice of stoning anywhere it occurs as a form of legalized death by torture," he said.

A host of prominent names from the worlds of politics and arts signed an open letter condemning the planned stoning Friday in the Times, which has been running a campaign to halt the execution,

Signatories included former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, three former British foreign ministers, and Jose Ramos-Horta, East Timorese president and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

American actors Robert De Niro and Robert Redford also signed, as did French actress Juliette Binoche and French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy.

"On top of what she has already endured, Ms Ashtiani faces a gruesome and agonising death," said the letter.

"We urge the Iranian Government to overturn this unjust sentence and reconsider Ms Ashtiani's case."

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