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Protests planned worldwide against execution of Iranian woman

By Karen Smith, CNN
Sakineh Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 after being subjected to 99 lashes.
Sakineh Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 after being subjected to 99 lashes.
  • Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006
  • She was sentenced to death by stoning
  • The sentence was recently put on hold
  • Protesters plan to gather in more than 30 cities

(CNN) -- Hundreds of protesters will gather worldwide Saturday to rally against the imprisonment and possible execution of an Iranian woman convicted of adultery.

The case of Sakineh Mohammedie Ashtiani has drawn international attention. She was convicted of adultery in 2006 and faces the possibility of execution.

Ashtiani was originally sentenced to death by stoning, but it was put on hold earlier this month after an international outcry.

Despite the sentencing delay, human rights activists want to remind the world of Ashtiani's plight, said Mina Ahadi, chairman of the International Committee Against Execution and Stoning, one of the groups leading Saturday's protests.

"The fact is, the execution can still happen," Ahadi said. "And, often times in Iran, these types of executions will happen without any notice."

More than 30 cities will participate in "International Sakineh Mohammedie Ashtiani Day" at 2 p.m. local time. Cities holding rallies include Washington, New York, London, Paris, Berlin and Ottawa, organizers said.

Organizers hope the rallies will help free Ashtiani and intensify the international support she gained earlier when her case was widely publicized.

"International pressure is what causes change," Ahadi said. "The authorities in Iran aren't immune to this pressure -- we want to release Ashtiani, and we think these rallies are a huge factor in doing so."

Earlier this month, Ashtiani's lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, told CNN that she confessed to the crime after being subjected to 99 lashes.

She later recanted the confession and has denied wrongdoing, he said.

Iranian state media reported this month that the nation's judiciary chief halted the execution of Ashtiani.

"Although the verdict still stands and is definite, the execution has been halted on humanitarian grounds from the order of the honorable judiciary chief, and will not be implemented at this time," Malek Ajdar Sharifi, a judiciary official in East Azerbaijan province, told Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency.