TEHRAN, Iran — A local judiciary official says an Iranian woman sentenced to death on an adultery conviction will be executed either by stoning or hanging.
Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani had been sentenced to death by stoning, but that sentenced was believed to have been suspended in July after an international outcry over the case.
Malek Ajdar Sharifi, the head of justice department of East Azerbaijan province where Ashtiani is in prison, was quoted by the semi-official ISNA news agency on Sunday as saying judicial authorities are still discussing whether to execute Ashtiani by stoning or by hanging.
Ashtiani was convicted of adultery in 2006 and sentenced to death by stoning. She was later convicted of being an accessory to the murder of her husband.
Celebrities including Robert Redford, Robert De Niro, and Sting have called on Iran to release a woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.
In an open letter published late last year, more than 80 actors, artists, musicians, academics and politicians said that “Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has suffered enough.”
Signatories include actor Colin Firth, artist Damien Hirst, Nobel literature laureates Wole Soyinka and V.S. Naipaul, British opposition leader Ed Miliband and former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner. They say Ashtiani has already spent five years in prison and received 99 lashes.
They called on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to release her along with her son and lawyer, who are also imprisoned.
Ashtiani, 43, was convicted in 2006 of having an “illicit relationship” with two men after the murder of her husband the year before and was sentenced at that time to 99 lashes. She was later convicted of adultery and sentenced to be stoned.
Stoning was widely imposed in the years following 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.