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Iran Orders 'Quick and Fair' Appeal for Jailed US Journalist


The head of Iran's judiciary has ordered a "quick" and "fair" appeal for jailed Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi.

A judiciary statement Monday said that Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi issued the decree to Tehran's court system two days after Saberi was sentenced to eight years in prison after her conviction on charges of espionage.

The Associated Press says Saberi's parents visited her Monday, and said she seemed to be in good health.

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeated U.S. calls for Saberi to be released immediately. Clinton said she hoped that the statements by the judiciary chief and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would lead to action.

Mr. Ahmadinejad on Sunday called on the judiciary to ensure that the journalist will be allowed a full defense during the appeal process. He made the request amid mounting international criticism of Saberi's trial, which was held behind closed doors.

U.S. President Barack Obama has expressed grave concern about Saberi's well being and called for her release. He said Sunday that Washington is working to make sure she is properly treated.

Saberi's case comes at a time when Mr. Obama is seeking a dialogue with Iran to ease decades of mistrust between the two countries.

President Ahmadinejad's letter also called for full legal rights to be granted to detained Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan. Derakhshan was detained in Iran last November on charges of insulting religious figures. He is known as the "father" of the Iranian blogging revolution for posting instructions on how to create online journals.

Saberi worked as a freelance journalist in Iran for several U.S. and British news outlets. She was arrested in late January for allegedly working in the country without valid press credentials. Her father says she was tricked into making incriminating statements by Iranian officials who told her that doing so would enable her release.

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

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