I'm sure you've heard of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani.
She is the Iranian lady who having been found guilty of adultery, was sentenced to death by being stoned. Just to be clear, this means that she is buried vertically in the ground with only her head and shoulders showing so that she cannot use her arms to defend herself. Men then throw large stones at her head until she suffers a fractured skull and then dies.
You may wonder then why I was saddened to read in the paper that she had been temporarily released and allowed to visit her son at home. Let me explain.
I have no idea whether this lady is guilty or not. In an oppressive state it is hard to accept the truth of apparent public confessions by such prisoners. If she is guilty then she deserves punishment according to the law of her country. My problem, shared by civilised countries the world over, is with the barbaric nature of the punishment. This is why such intense diplomatic pressure has been applied to Iran.
I normally defend our free press to the hilt. It is one of the foundation stones of our democracy. Of course it was pleasing news that she had been allowed to go home. The problem was that some of the press didn't simply report the facts of the release. It didn't say anything about Iran's government demonstrating that it could be merciful.
It said that Iran had bowed to Western pressure - that it had been humbled.
This was no time to crow. It should come as no surprise to anyone that following these bragging headlines, the lady has been re-arrested.