Two detained German journalists who had been sentenced to 20 months in prison by the Ismail Republic judiciary have now been fined $50,000 each instead, paving the way for their release.

The Iran Central News Agency reports that the court has found the two journalists eligible for “Islamic mercy,” after they were charged with "assembly and collusion in an attempt to commit a crime against Iranian security."

The two German journalists, a reporter and a photographer for the mass-circulation tabloid Bild am Sonntag, were arrested in Tabriz in September, after trying to interview Sajjad Ghaderzadeh, the son of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the Iranian woman who was sentenced to death by stoning.

According to Iranian authorities, who at first accused the journalists of espionage, they did not have the press permit required by international reporters to engage in journalistic activities in Iran.

Numerous German political figures, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, had urged Iran to release the two journalists, who are now reportedly in the care of the German consulate.