American journalist Roxana Saberi, who was charged with espionage
against Iran, has been convicted and condemned to eight years in
prison, after being tried behind closed doors. The father of the dual
national Saberi, who confirmed the verdict, also says that she was
"tricked" into confessing.
The Iranian court sentenced American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi to eight years in prison.
31-year-old Saberi, who is a dual American-Iranian citizen, has
reported for National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting
Corporation and was arrested in January. She was charged with "spying
for the United States," and put on trial Monday. The U.S. State
Department has rejected the spy charges as "baseless." U.S. Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday she was disappointed by the
sentencing and said the U.S. government would continue to raise
concerns to the Iranian government.
Saberi's father Reza Saberi
confirmed the sentence against his daughter, and argued that she had
been "tricked" into confessing to what he called, "bogus charges." Her
attorney says that he will appeal.
Reza Moini, of Paris-based
Reporters Without Borders, says that his organization is protesting
what amounts to a "sham" trial and that the charges don't even
correspond with Iran's own penal code.
Moini says that the
condemnation doesn't correspond with the definition of espionage in
Iran's penal code, articles 501 and 502, and the charge of espionage
doesn't fit Saberi's case, either. But, what's important, he argues,
is that the court tried her behind closed doors so that she couldn't
defend herself properly. The Islamic Republic, he says, has been using
dual national journalists or scholars for six or seven years, now, to
put pressure on other countries, especially the U.S.
Ali Nourizadeh who runs the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies in
London says that Iran has misread signals from the Obama administration
that it will ignore Tehran's human rights practices, detaining Saberi
and other dual nationals so as to win the release of Iranians it claims
the U.S. arrested unfairly in Kurdistan, last year.
regime, at the moment, though the Americans invited them for talks, and
Americans actually showed some leniency towards them by not mentioning
the human rights issue in their statement," he said. "So, therefore,
the Iranians took the message wrongly and they believe if they push and
push, they can get their men released, those who were arrested in Erbil
Nourizadeh insists that Saberi's case is political and that the Iranian government has no credible case against her.
did not do anything wrong. She just did her job and she was doing it
for several years and there was no complaint," he said. "But, this time
they come just with the excuse that she didn't extend her license.
Okay, she did not extend her license, and that would be punishable by a
fine or three months imprisonment, not eight years."
ruling comes after recent diplomatic overtures by U.S. President Barack
Obama to renew dialogue with Iran and after European Union foreign
policy head Javier Solana invited Iran to a round table conference to
discuss its controversial nuclear program.