TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has criticized
Western media for having a double standard in reporting on the case of
an American woman facing the death penalty, a news agency reported
Ahmadinejad accused the West of launching a ``heavy propaganda’’
campaign against the case of an Iranian woman who had been sentenced to
be stoned to death for adultery but failing to react with outrage over
the imminent execution of Teresa Lewis in Virginia, according to
state-run IRNA. Iran
Lewis is a Virginia woman due to be put to death by injection on
Thursday for using sex and money to persuade two men to kill her
husband and her stepson to collect on life insurance policies. She
would be the first woman executed in Virginia in nearly a century, and
the first U.S. execution of a woman in five years.
Ahmadinejad noted that ``millions of Internet pages’’ have been devoted
to Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, whose stoning sentence was suspended in
July and her case put under review.
``Meanwhile, nobody objects to the case of an American woman who is
going to be executed,’’ he was quoted as saying during a speech Monday
to Islamic clerics and other figures in New York, where the Iranian
leader is attending the U.N. General Assembly.
``Today Western media are propaganda agents who continuously speak
about democracy and human rights though their slogans are sheer lies,’’
Ahmadinejad’s remarks were the latest in a series of statements by
Iranian officials denouncing the wave of international condemnation of
Ashtiani’s case, which has cast a harsh light on Iran’s version of
Press TV, the government’s main English-language broadcast arm, also
broadcast reports about the case with a photo of Lewis throughout the
Human Rights Watch says Ashtiani, 43 and a mother of two, was first
convicted in May 2006 of having an ``illicit relationship’’ with two
men following the death of her husband and was sentenced by a court to
99 lashes. Later that year she was also convicted of adultery and
sentenced to be stoned, even though she retracted a confession which
she claims was made under duress.
Iran says it has put the stoning on hold for now also has indicated
Ashtiani could be hanged for her conviction of playing a role in her
husband’s 2005 murder.
Stoning was widely imposed in the years after the 1979 Islamic
revolution, and even though Iran’s judiciary still regularly hands down
such sentences, they are often converted to other punishments.
The last known stoning was carried out in 2007, although the government
rarely confirms that such punishments have been meted out.