Saberi copied Iranian report on Iraq war: Report


Washington : Roxana Saberi, the American-Iranian journalist who was released Monday after spending more than three months in prison, was convicted of spying for the US because she had a copy of confidential Iranian report on the Iraq war, a media report said Wednesday.

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Saberi copied the report “out of curiosity” while working as a freelance translator for a powerful body connected to Iran’s ruling clerics, her attorney Saleh Nikbakht was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.

The document played an important role in her conviction during a closed-door trial last month, Nikbakht said. Besides that, Saberi’s trip to Israel in 2006 also strengthened prosecution’s case against her, he added. Iran bars its citizens from visiting Israel.

The 32-year-old Saberi, who worked for US National Public Radio, was sentenced to eight years in prison last month.

But after the verdict, both President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Judiciary head Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi intervened and pushed the prosecutor’s office for a fair appeal and asked for Saberi to be provided with all legal facilities.

The rather unusual intervention by the two top officials led to speculations that the judiciary might be forced to revise the harsh verdict for political considerations.

Abdolsamad Khorramshai, another attorney of the journalist, said a letter from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the court urging it to give Saberi’s case a complete review helped bring the sentence reduction.

Speaking to reporters in Tehran Tuesday for the first time since her release, Saberi said she had no specific plans but wanted to spend time with her family.

“I’m of course very happy to be free and to be with my parents again, and I want to thank all the people all over the world — which I’m just finding out about, really — who, whether they knew me or not, helped me and my family during this period,” she said outside her home in north Tehran.

Saberi’s Iranian-born father, Reza Saberi, dismissed the reports that her daughter was tortured while in custody. She “was not tortured at all” but had made incriminating statements about herself under pressure.

The family was preparing to return to the US with their daughter, he added.