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Saberi 'In Day Five' Of Hunger Strike In Iran Jail

Roxana Saberi in Tehran in June 2004
The father of jailed U.S.-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi has confirmed that his daughter is on a hunger strike and says she will continue to refuse food until her release.

Reza Saberi had told Radio Farda earlier in the week that Roxana, 31, had vowed to stop eating since her sentencing by an Iranian revolutionary court at a closed-door trial this month for alleged espionage.

Reza Saberi was quoted by Reuters as saying on April 25 that his daughter had since telephoned him from prison to tell him she was on the fifth day of a hunger strike and added that she "seems to be weak."

Reuters cited an ISNA report in which Saberi defense attorney Abdolsamad Khorramshahi said he had appealed the eight-year sentence.

He said he thought the case would go to an appellate court next week.

The case threatens to complicate U.S. efforts to confront Iran diplomatically over Tehran's continuing nuclear program, which many in the West suspect is aimed at a weapons capability, as well as cooperation in areas like stabilizing Iranian neighbors Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Western outcry has mounted over Saberi's detention, as the U.S. and other governments have rejected the allegations against Saberi as unfounded and urged her release, as have a number of international rights advocacy groups.

Saberi had lived in Iran for six years and was said to have been picked up in January after purchasing a bottle of wine, but Iranian officials subsequently suggested she would be tried for working as a journalist without the proper accreditation and then emerged with the accusations of spying.