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Obama Disappointed by Iran's Treatment of US Journalist

Roxana Saberi

The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama is deeply disappointed that Iran has sentenced an Iranian-American journalist to prison on spying charges.

Roxana Saberi was sentenced to eight years on charges of spying for the United States.

Saberi's lawyer said Saturday he will appeal the verdict handed down by an Iranian court.

Dennis McDonough, a deputy national security advisor to President Obama, said Saberi is an American reporter who was simply practicing journalism.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said U.S. officials will continue to vigorously raise their concerns about the case to Iran's government.

The 31-year-old Saberi had been working in Iran for several news outlets.  She was arrested in late January for allegedly working in the country without valid press credentials.

Iranian authorities recently announced espionage charges against her.  

They said she used journalism as a cover to pass classified information to U.S. intelligence services - a charge the United States rejected as "baseless."

An official with an international press freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, says his organization is protesting what it calls a "sham" trial.  He says the charges against Saberi do not correspond with Iran's penal code.

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


National Iranian American Council (NIAC)


NIAC Condemns Iran's Jailing of Iranian-American Journalist

Washington, DC - The National Iranian American Council (NIAC) condemns the government of Iran's dubious trial and jailing of Roxana Saberi. On Saturday, Saberi was convicted by an Iranian court on charges of espionage and given an eight-year prison sentence. No specific allegations or evidence have been made public.

"The changing rationales for her arrest and the one day secret trial seriously call into question the validity of the charges against Ms. Saberi and the fairness of her trial," said NIAC president Trita Parsi. "This, and the countless other human rights abuses committed by Iran, are very disturbing and are of particular concern to the Iranian-American community. Iranian Americans specifically seem to have become targets of the Iranian government in recent years."

Saberi was originally detained for allegedly buying alcohol. Iran's foreign ministry later said she was operating as a reporter with expired credentials. She was finally charged with spying shortly before the trial took place. Saberi, who has worked for National Public Radio and the BBC, has lived in Iran for six years.

President Barack Obama "is deeply disappointed at this news," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. Both Senators from North Dakota, Saberi's home state, spoke out strongly against the verdict. "I call on the Iranian government to show compassion," said Senator Dorgan.

According to her father, Saberi maintains her innocence and plans to go on a hunger strike.

... Payvand News - 04/19/09 ... --

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