London The case of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning drew international outrage after her lawyer’s blog posts sparked a global campaign to save her life, and British media reported late Thursday that the stoning would not occur.
The Iranian Embassy in London said that Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani would no longer face death by stoning, according to Channel 4 News and The Guardian newspaper. A message seeking comment from the embassy was not immediately returned, and it was not immediately clear if Ashtiani still faced death by other means.
“According to information from the relevant judicial authorities in Iran, she will not be executed by stoning punishment,” the embassy said in the statement reported by Channel 4 News and The Guardian.
Ashtiani’s face, framed in a black chador, stared from the front page of The Times of London on Thursday, while The Guardian carried an interview with Ashtiani’s children — 22-year-old Sajad and 17-year-old Farideh — who described the sentence as a nightmare. Protests are planned in front of the Iranian Embassy over the weekend.
Stoning is a “medieval punishment which has no role in the modern world,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters Thursday. “If the punishment is carried out, it will disgust and appall the watching world,” Hague said in a media conference with Turkey’s foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu in London.
He appealed to Tehran to halt the planned execution.
Celebrities including Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, and Robert Redford have already signed on to the campaign to push for her release, according to The Times, which also quoted U.S. Sen. John Kerry and Howard Berman, the chairman of the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee, as expressing their disgust at the sentence.
Under Iran’s Islamic laws, adultery is the only capital offense punishable by stoning. A man is usually buried up to his waist, while a woman is buried up to her neck. Those carrying out the verdict then pelt the convict with stones until he or she dies.
Stoning was widely imposed in the years following the revolution, and even though Iran’s judiciary still regularly hands down such sentences, they are often converted to fines. The last known stoning was carried out in 2008, although the government rarely confirms that such punishments have been meted out.