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Clinton Renews Call on Iran to Free Roxana Saberi


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday she hopes Iranian calls for a reexamination of the spy case against Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi will lead to her speedy release. Both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the country's judiciary chief have stressed the need for a fair appeal for the detained reporter.

Top administration officials from President Obama on down have said the spy charges against Saberi are without foundation. And Secretary Clinton says she hopes calls by senior Iranian officials for a fair review of her spying conviction will lead to her early release and return home.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday called on the country's judiciary to ensure that Saberi be allowed a full defense during the appeal process for her case. There were similar comments Monday from Iranian judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Sharudi.

The American-born Saberi, who has dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship, was convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight years in prison in a brief closed-door trial Saturday.

President Obama said in Trinidad and Tobago Sunday he had complete confidence that Saberi, who had reported for National Public Radio and the BBC, was not engaged in espionage.

At a joint press appearance with Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen, Secretary of State Clinton reiterated that the charges against Saberi are baseless and that she should be freed immediately.

"She has been subjected to a process that has been not transparent, unpredictable, arbitrary," said Clinton. "And we hope that actions will be taken as soon as possible by authorities in Iran including the judiciary to bring about the speedy release of Miss Saberi and her speedy return home. So we obviously are closely monitoring the situation and working with the Swiss, who are our protectorate representative in the country, and hoping that these remarks [Ahmadinejad and judiciary chief] lead to action."

For his part, Foreign Minister Verhagen declined specific comment on the Saberi case but said the Iranian government should avail itself of the Obama administration's overture to Iran for dialogue.

"We hope the Iranian authorities realize the significance of this gesture. Iran has much to gain but time is essential," he said. "No reaction to the outstretched hand would be an answer in itself."

The Obama administration has offered Tehran dialogue without conditions and said it will take direct part in a proposed joint meeting with Iran on its nuclear program involving the five permanent U.N. Security Council member countries and Germany.


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