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Human Rights Group Fears Iran Woman's Execution Imminent

A prominent human rights group has expressed "grave concerns" that Iran will soon execute a women sentenced to death by stoning who purportedly confessed in a televised interview this week.

New York-based Human Rights Watch on Friday criticized Iran for airing the confession of the woman said to be Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.

In the televised interview Wednesday, the woman said she was complicit in the murder of her husband. The woman also confessed to adultery, a charge she had previously denied.

HRW's Nadya Khalife also criticized Iran for pronouncing the barbaric sentence of death by stoning.

The woman in the interview had much of her face covered by a black veil, and Iranian television blurred most of her image, making it impossible to verify her identity.

Ashtiani's lawyer told The Guardian newspaper his client had been tortured for two days before the interview.

Ashtiani was initially sentenced to be stoned to death after being convicted of having an illicit relationship with two men following her husband's death.

But following an international outcry, Iran agreed to spare Ashtiani from a stoning death, though she still could be hanged.

The International Committee Against Stoning condemned the televised interview. Amnesty International also questioned the confession, saying many Iranians forced to make such public admissions of guilt have later retracted their statements, and claimed abuse by authorities.

Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States is troubled by Ashtiani's case and by reports that an Iranian man charged with homosexuality faces "imminent execution." She said neither case has proceeded with the transparency or due process written in Iran's constitution.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.