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Woman sentenced to death by stoning denied visits from lawyer, family

By Mitra Mobasherat, CNN
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, right, pictured in 2004 at a daycare in Osko, Iran. Her family says she worked there for two years.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, right, pictured in 2004 at a daycare in Osko, Iran. Her family says she worked there for two years.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • "This is the first time I was turned away," says son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
  • The Ashtiani case has sparked international outrage
  • France wants EU to consider new "initiatives" against Iran

(CNN) -- The Iranian woman awaiting possible execution by stoning was denied visits from her family and attorney this week, just days after her lawyer's home was ransacked and searched.

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani's two children were turned away Thursday during visitation hours, her son, Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, told CNN Friday.

"They told me, 'Your mother doesn't want to see you,' and they wouldn't let me in," he said.

But later that night he received a call from his mother.

"The guards had told her, 'Your children didn't visit you today, they want nothing to do with you,'" Ghaderzadeh said.

Ashtiani's children have visited her every Thursday afternoon since she was convicted of adultery in 2006.

"This is the first time I was turned away," Ghaderzadeh said. "I don't know why they are acting this way."

"Our home phone number is tapped and being monitored. My cell phone is being monitored. They have control over everything. I don't know what they are thinking," Ghaderzadeh said.

He also charged that Iranian authorities broke into the home of his mother's attorney and stole his files. Houtan Kian confirmed the claim, telling CNN that he came back to his house Sunday after a meeting with Ghaderzadeh in his office to find his home burglarized.

"They took all my computers, and files for my cases. They literally knocked my front door down! I can't believe this," he said.

Kian said he was also denied his weekly meeting with Ashtiani at the prison.

"Because I am her lawyer, and working for her release and trying to prove that she is innocent, for this reason they are not letting me visit her," he said.

Another attorney who represents Ashtiani, Mohammed Mostafaei, fled Iran earlier this month after members of his family, including his wife, were arrested and authorities issued a warrant for his arrest.

"I made a decision, after I saw that they were still going to arrest me and mistreat me, that I must leave Iran. It was a very hard decision," Mostafaei told CNN at the time.

Kian says Iranian authorities are trying to "sabotage" the case by threatening his safety. He admits he is worried, but vowed he will not bend to "their pressure."

"I am scared for my safety, 100 percent. There are no guarantees from the authorities. I am scared for my family and very worried. But I don't want to leave [Iran] at all. I have been working on this case for years. I will work until I prove they are innocent... for all my clients," he said.

I am scared for my family and very worried. But I don't want to leave [Iran] at all. I have been working on this case for years. I will work until I prove they are innocent ... for all my clients
--Houtan Kian, attorney for Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani
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Iranian judicial authorities say a final verdict in Ashtiani's case has not yet been made, ISNA news agency reported Saturday. Last month, Iran's judiciary said the case was under review.

The International Committee Against Stoning, a human rights group, has said that Iran announced she will not be executed during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends around September 9.

Iran's judiciary could reinstate her sentence of death by stoning, execute her by other means, or possibly even grant her a reprieve, according to human rights groups.

Iran's Judiciary High Council of Human Rights said in a communique Saturday that evidence shows the allegations against Ashtiani "have been proved right" and that Iran's judiciary operates independently, as other justice systems do, the semi-official Iranian Student's News Agency reported.

"The stance taken by officials of other countries and international authorities on legal issues of countries is a wrong, unfair and biased prejudgment since they do not have access to reliable sources of the countries," the council said.

The statement came soon after France asked the European Union to come up with new approaches to get Iran to stop the pending execution. Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner raised the issue Wednesday with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, asking that measures be studied to stop Iran from violating human rights.

"We need to encourage the Union in initiatives to remind Iranian authorities that ... their attitude of isolation has a price, which they can liberate as soon as they choose a more responsible behavior and more in line with their international commitments on the subject of human rights," Kouchner said in a letter to Ashton published in the French press on Friday.