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US Reporter Jailed in Iran Ends Hunger Strike


Jailed U.S.-Iranian reporter Roxana Saberi has put an end to her hunger strike, according to her father Reza Saberi. An Iranian appeals court is set to hear her case some time next week.

Family and friends of jailed U.S.-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi are saying they are relieved she has decided to put an end to her two-week old hunger strike, in the aftermath of an Iranian pledge to hear her appeal next week.

The 32-year-old Saberi, who has worked for National Public Radio and the BBC, was jailed in January, allegedly because her press credentials had expired, before being convicted last month of "spying for the United States" in what many are calling a sham-trial.

Saberi's father Reza, who is visiting Tehran with his wife Akiko, in a bid to win her release, sounded pleased that his daughter finally agreed to end her hunger strike.

"When (Since) you called me last time, we knew that our daughter stopped her hunger strike. Do you know that? We saw her on Monday," Reza said. "We asked her to stop it and she said she will think it over, but last night she stopped her hunger strike. Yah, we are happy about it. Yes, we are."

Members of Reporters Without Borders in France and the United States, as well as several other countries, have gone on a hunger strike to show solidarity with Saberi and help win her release.

Four Reporters Without Borders members in New York are also demonstrating in front of the United Nations to help to dramatize Saberi's case.

Analyst Ali Nourizadeh of the Arab-Iranian Studies Center in London says he thinks the Iranian government has gotten so much bad publicity from Saberi's conviction that it is eager to reduce or quash her sentence.

"Even (Supreme Leader Ayatollah) Khamenei realized that they should not do this with a well-known journalist," Nourizadeh said. "So, therefore, I think now there is a possibility that the sentences would be first reduced, then crushed, later on. And the high court is going to look at it and it is very strange in that for the first time in Iranian judiciary that they are having the high court session just (a) few weeks after the sentence was issued. Usually, it takes months and months and months, not just (a) few weeks. But, as it took just a few weeks, it shows that they are concerned and the whole project backfired and they are going to. I am not saying 100 percent that they are going to release her immediately, but there may be (some) sort of justification for her release by the high court."

Nourizadeh says Iran was probably hoping to win the release of five Iranian military men captured by U.S. forces in Kurdistan in 2005 in exchange for Saberi, but eventually realized that such a trade would not work.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said recently that Saberi's appeal would be viewed "with justice and compassion."

President Barack Obama indicated, Friday, that he was "especially concerned" about Saberi and two other women journalists being held captive by North Korea.


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