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Glimmer of hope for jailed US-Iranian journalist

Text by Tony TODD

Latest update : 2009-11-16

Iranian film director Bahman Ghobadi – fiancé of jailed US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi – has written an impassioned open letter to the media, calling for Saberi's release.

Iranian film director Bahman Ghobadi –  fiancé of jailed US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi – has written an impassioned open letter to the media, calling for her release.

 

The letter, which was written in Iran, was translated into English and published on the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran Web site Tuesday.

 

“It is with tears in my eyes that I say she is innocent and guiltless. It is me, who has known her for years, and who has shared every moment with her, who declares it,” wrote Ghobadi, an Iranian Kurd and director of the internationally acclaimed film, Time for Drunken Horses.

 

But despite the letter's desperate tone, Ghobadi is hopeful that his fiancée will be released after an Iranian court said it would hear a “fair” appeal.

 

Saberi was convicted of spying for the USA, after a lightning one-week trial. The 31-year-old TV journalist was sentenced to eight years jail over the weekend.

 

On Tuesday, a spokesman for the Iranian judiciary said Saberi had appealed the verdict. Judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said he hoped the verdict would be changed, the official IRNA news agency reported.

 

“The verdict will be reconsidered in the appeals court," said Jamshidi. But he warned that the Iranian government, which has come under considerable pressure from the US, still cannot legitimately influence the decision of the court.

 

Saberi’s father, Reza, has claimed that his daughter was tricked into making a false confession on the understanding that she would be released.

  

‘I am worried about her health’

 

In his letter, Ghobadi said he was concerned about his fiancée’s mental and physical well-being.

 

“I am worried about her. I am worried about her health. I heard she was depressed and cried all the time. She is very sensitive. To the point that she refuses to touch her food,” he wrote.

 

Speaking to reporters from his Tehran home, Saberi’s father, Reza, said he hoped the court of appeal would overturn the verdict. If not, he warned that his daughter would probably go on a hunger strike.

Date created : 2009-04-22