An Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning has not been released, state-run Press TV said on Friday, denying a report by a European human rights group which quoted "sources in Iran" as saying she had been freed.
Press TV said on its website that "contrary to a vast publicity campaign by Western media that confessed murderer Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani has been released", she was still in custody, and it had made a film of her describing the killing of her husband. The publication of photographs from the film led to talk that she had been released.
With a series of broadcasts, Iran has appeared to try to deflect criticism on the case by accusing the West of stirring up controversy to damage Iran's Islamic leadership.
The TV said the 43-year-old mother, who remains in prison in the city of Tabriz in, was accompanied by her son, Sajjad Qadezadeh, to her home for the filming of the latest footage. Her son and lawyer, Houtan Kian, were arrested in October, along with two German journalists. The two Germans were detained while trying to interview Ashtiani's family.
Ashtiani 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. Later that year, she was also convicted of adultery and sentenced to be stoned, even though she retracted a confession that she says was made under duress.
Iran has put Ashtiani's stoning sentence on hold amid pressure from rights groups, but has said she has also been convicted of involvement in the death of her husband. She could still face execution by hanging in the two cases.
In a purported statement broadcast on Iranian state television last month, Ashtiani called herself a "sinner." In the same footage, Ashtiani's son, Sajjad, retracted his previous allegations that his mother was tortured, and criticized Kian and Ashtiani's previous lawyer -- who fled to Norway this summer -- for publicizing the case.
Kian also said in the footage that he advised Qaderzadeh to lie to Western journalists.