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Iran Court To Hear Saberi Case Next Week


Roxana Saberi

Roxana Saberi

TEHRAN (Reuters) -- An Iranian court will hold a hearing next week on the appeal submitted by Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi against her eight-year jail sentence for espionage, the judiciary has said.

Saberi, kept in Tehran's Evin prison, was sentenced last month on charges of spying for the United States, Iran's arch foe. The U.S.-born freelance journalist has appealed against the verdict through her lawyer.

"The case has gone to...the appeal court and it is being studied there," judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi told a news conference.

"There has been a date set for next week and the lawyers' association, the Intelligence Ministry, and the prosecutor's deputy have been notified to take part in the court session," he said, giving no further details.

Saberi's father said last week that she has been on hunger strike since April 21, but the Iranian judiciary denies this.

"I asked the deputy prosecutor two days ago. He said that she is in complete health and not on hunger strike," Jamshidi said.

"She does not have any physical problems. It is natural that, in the event there is a problem, we have a responsibility...to treat her," he said.

Saberi, 32, was arrested in late January for working in Iran after her press credentials expired in 2006.

The United States says the espionage charges against Saberi are baseless and has called for her immediate release, expressing deep concern for her safety.

The case could complicate Washington's efforts towards reconciliation with Iran after three decades of mutual mistrust.
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