- Iran - Iraq - Journalism - USA
AFP - A lawyer for US-born reporter Roxana Saberi, freed this week from a Tehran jail, said on Wednesday the spy charges she had faced arose after she obtained a classified report on the US war on Iraq.
"She had a report about the US attack on Iraq prepared by the strategic research centre at the (Iranian) presidency," Saleh Nikbakht told AFP.
"The research centre deemed the report as classified. But she had not used it at all." Nikbakht did not say how Saberi had managed to gain access to the confidential report.
Saberi's other lawyer, Abdolsamad Khoramshahi, said the journalist received a suspended two-year jail term from the appeal court -- the stipulated punishment for such a crime.
"She was accused of accessing secret documents. If these are used, there is a 10-year jail term, if not, then two years," he said.
Saberi was released on Monday after her original eight-year jail term was reduced to a suspended two-year term by the appeal court. The judiciary has said her two-year sentence would be suspended for five years.
Iran's intelligence minister said on Wednesday that Saberi was guilty.
"The verdict shows that she has not been acquitted, she was put on trial and it was established that she had committed an offence," Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejeie was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster.
Saberi walked free from Tehran's Evin prison on Monday where she was held following her arrest in January reportedly on charges of buying alcohol, which is illegal in the Islamic republic.
However, she was later accused of "cooperating with a hostile state," a charge which carries a prison term of one to 10 years under article 508 of the Iranian penal code.
The charge was later replaced and Saberi was accused of "gathering classified information with an intention of harming national security" under article 505 of the code.
Her lawyers had defended her by saying that she could not be charged for cooperating with a hostile state, in this case the United States, as Washington and Tehran could not be defined as being hostile towards each other.
"According to international law and treaties to which Iran is a member, hostile nations are those who are at war or have been at war and are in a state of ceasefire without signing a peace treaty," Nikbakht wrote in the reformist newspaper Etemad Melli on Wednesday.
He said Iran approved this definition in 2003 and announced that it was not in a state of hostilities with any country, except with Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein.
Saberi's original eight-year jail term had caused deep concern in Washington and among human rights groups.
The sentence was the harshest ever meted out to a dual national on security charges in Iran, and came just weeks after US President Barack Obama proposed dialogue with Tehran after three decades of severed ties.
Saberi in brief comments to reporters on Tuesday thanked those who had helped to secure her release.
She said he had no plans at the moment and just wanted to "relax" with her family.
Reza Saberi, her father, told reporters that the family was preparing to take her back to the United States.
He also said Roxana was "not tortured" during her stay in prison, but added that she had still not fully spoken of her experiences there.
"She is telling us little by little about the jail experience. The prison atmosphere is pressurised and not good for anyone," Saberi said.
He added that his daughter is free both to leave and return to Iran.