The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is an Iranian woman who was charged with adultery in 2006.  She has been imprisoned since 2007 awaiting execution by stoning. 

In May 2006, Ashtiani was initially tried for  having an ‘illicit relationship’ and plead guilty, but later recanted claiming that she had been tortured.  Her punishment for this ‘illicit relationship’ was 99 lashes, which was carried out in front of her eldest son who at the time was 17.  In September 2006, she was retried by a separate court on charges of adultery while married.  Ashtiani was convicted and sentenced to death by stoning.  This sentence was upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court on May 27, 2007.

Ashtiani has suffered horrendous physical and emotional abuse at the hands of the Iranian government.  She has been shown on Iranian state-run television confessing her crimes -- performances that her lawyers claim are preceded by hours, if not days, of torture. When The Times, a British newspaper, incorrectly identified a photograph of an unveiled woman as Ashtiani, she was charged and convicted of ‘spreading corruption and indecency’ and sentenced to 99 lashes. Ashtiani lives with the uncertainty of not knowing when or if she will even be executed or how.  Multiple times she has been told she is about to be hanged or stoned, only to have the government renege.

Additionally, the Iranian government has lashed out at Ashtiani’s family and lawyers. Her eldest son, who was forced to witness the initial 99 lashes ordered for Ashtiani in 2006, has himself been imprisoned and tortured repeatedly for his part in raising awareness of his mother’s imprisonment.  One of Ashitiani's lawyers fled Iran seeking asylum due to the intimidation of the Iranian government.  A second lawyer’s apartment was ransacked by plains clothes police officers who stole documents proving that she had been acquitted of charges relating to her husband’s murder.

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