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Jailed US-Iranian journalist is set free

Video by Nadia CHARBIT

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-05-12

US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi, who had been sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of spying for the US, was instead freed on Monday and given a two-year suspended sentence, says an Iranian judiciary spokesman.

Jailed Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi has been released after a Tehran court reduced her prison term to a two-year suspended sentence.

 

Saberi was originally jailed for eight years by a Revolutionary court on charges of spying for the United States.

 

The new verdict comes a day after a Tehran court heard a closed-door appeal by Saberi, who was initially detained in January reportedly for buying alcohol.

 

Despite being set free, Saberi was given a suspended sentence for “gathering secret documents”, her lawyer Saleh Nikbakht told AFP.

 

“The court had initially accused her of cooperating with a hostile government, which carries a sentence of between two and 10 years,” FRANCE 24 correspondent Heidi Farmani said. “But Saberi’s lawyers argued that relations between the USA and Iran could not be defined as hostile, hence the ruling.”

 

Harshest ever sentence

 

The original sentence against Saberi was the harshest ever meted out to a dual national on security charges in Iran.

 

It came just weeks after US President Barack Obama proposed dialogue with Tehran after three decades of severed ties.

The ruling was greeted with joy and relief by Saberi’s father, who has been in the country since March to push for her release and said he will take his daughter back home to the United States "as soon as possible".
      
The former US beauty queen launched a hunger strike on April 21 in protest at the sentence but ended it after about two weeks after being briefly hospitalised in the prison clinic.
      
Saberi, who is also of Japanese origin, has reported for US National Public Radio, the BBC and Fox News, and has lived in Iran for the past six years.

 

Saberi is banned from working as a journalist in Iran for five years.

 

Date created : 2009-05-11

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