Jailed American journalist in Iran sentenced to eight years in prison

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Roxana Saberi, 31, an Iranian-American journalist who was accused of spying on Iran, has been sentenced to eight years in prison. This marks the first time that an Iranian court has convicted and sentenced a journalist who they accused of spying.

"The eight-year sentence is true. I will appeal the verdict," said Abdul-Samad, Saberi's attorney. Saberi could have been sentenced the maximum of 10 years in prison, under Iranian law. The court did not allow Saberi's lawyer to ask for bail.

Saberi was originally arrested then charged for purchasing alcoholic beverages and reporting without the proper media credentials. During the trial, Iranian officials accused her of spying and sending information to U.S. intelligence agencies overseas. According to Iran's national media, Saberi admitted to spying.

"It's normal for somebody who has violated our law to be sentenced. It has nothing to do with [international] bargaining chips or with President Obama. [...] I do hope her case will be soon over, but Iran has its own national interests, and issues such as nuclear technology are sensitive and some countries are trying to undermine our interests through someone posing as a journalist," said a former spokesman for Hesbollah in Iran.

The U.S. condemns the arrest and sentence calling the charges against Saberi "baseless and without foundation." They call for Saberi's immediate release.

Saberi was working for BBC News and National Public Radio (NPR) which is located in Washington, D.C.. She was arrested two months ago, but according to NPR, Saberi has been in custody for three months.