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Iranian Official Says Appeals Court Could Reconsider Jailed Journalist's Case


An Iranian judiciary spokesman says an appeals court could reconsider the verdict handed to a jailed Iranian-American journalist, as international criticism of her original closed-door trial grows.

An Iranian court sentenced Roxana Saberi to eight years in prison Saturday after her conviction on charges of espionage. The head of Iran's judiciary on Monday ordered a "quick" and "fair" appeal for the 31-year-old reporter.

And Iran's official news agency, IRNA, Tuesday quoted judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi as saying he hopes the appeals court will reconsider the verdict.

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

An Iran specialist for Amnesty International, Elise Auerbach, says the journalist has become "a pawn in the political maneuvering" between Iran and the United States.

Auerbach has said the case lacks credibility because Iranian authorities have not revealed any of the evidence they might have against Saberi. Amnesty International has condemned the sentencing.

In Washington Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she hopes that the statements by Iran's president and judiciary chief will lead to action.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on the judiciary to ensure that the journalist is allowed a full defense during the appeals process.

Saberi's parents have visited the imprisoned journalist, and they said she seemed to be in good health.

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 Iranian officials tricked her into making incriminating statements by telling her that doing so would enable her release.


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

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