TEHRAN, Iran - Iran said Monday that it would allow relatives to visit two German journalists detained while covering the case of an Iranian woman whose sentence to death by stoning for adultery has caused an international outcry.
It was not immediately clear when the visit would be allowed. Earlier Monday, the German Foreign Ministry summoned the Iranian ambassador to complain that the two were not able to meet with relatives over Christmas, despite earlier promises.
Iranian and German authorities have not identified the two journalists, but late Monday, an official Iranian TV outlet, Press TV, identified the two Germans for the first time, showing a passport belonging to Marcus Alfred Rudolf Hellwig and naming the second journalist as Jens Andreas Koch.
The death sentence for the Iranian woman, Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, which Iran has put on hold, has drawn condemnation from the United States, the European Union, and rights groups who are pressuring Tehran to stay the execution.
It has further strained Iran's relations with world powers, which were already tense over the country's disputed nuclear program.
The two Germans, a reporter and a photographer for the mass-circulation tabloid Bild am Sonntag, entered Iran on tourist visas and were arrested in early October in the city of Tabriz while interviewing Ashtiani's son and lawyer. The son and lawyer were arrested around the same time as the journalists.
Iranian officials approved the visit by the families in Tabriz, 400 miles from the capital of Tehran, a statement on the state TV website said.
In Berlin, a German Foreign Ministry spokesman said two relatives were on their way to Tabriz after German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle spoke several times Monday with his Iranian counterpart.
The spokesman said that the relatives met with the Iranian foreign minister, who "promised a swift encounter with the detainees in Tabriz."
Iranian officials say the two Germans have admitted to violating Iranian laws, which forbid peoople entering the country on tourist visas to work as journalists. Iran's judiciary rejected claims by Iranian officials who accused the Germans of espionage, and no spy charges have been filed against them.