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Iran Urges Obama Not to Comment on US Journalist - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iran's President Ahmadinejad waves before a meeting with Swiss President Merz in Geneva. (R)

Iran’s President Ahmadinejad waves before a meeting with Swiss President Merz in Geneva. (R)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran urged President Barack Obama on Monday not to comment on the case of a U.S. journalist convicted for spying and sentenced to eight years in prison before learning the details.

Iran has released very few facts about Roxana Saberi’s case and initially said she was arrested for working without press credentials. The government later charged the 31-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen with spying for the United States and convicted her in a one-day trial behind closed doors. The court announced the verdict Saturday.

Obama said Sunday he was “gravely concerned” about the safety and well-being of Saberi and was confident she wasn’t involved in espionage, sparking a response from Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi.

“I advise those who studied law not to comment on a case without seeing its context,” Qashqavi told reporters during his weekly press briefing Monday.

Obama studied law at Harvard University and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago before becoming president.

Qashqavi said Saberi’s charges included “gathering information and news in an illegal way.” He said Saberi was treated like any other Iranian citizen during her trial. Iran’s legal system does not recognize dual nationality.

The journalist’s father, Reza Saberi, has said his daughter was not provided a proper defense during her trial. He called the proceedings “a mock trial” during an interview with CNN on Sunday.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday that Saberi should be allowed to offer a full defense during her appeal.

The message was a sign that Iran’s leadership does not want the case to derail moves toward a dialogue with the Obama administration to break a 30-year diplomatic deadlock.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad smiles during a welcoming ceremony for former Turkish prime minister and chief of the Islamic Refah party, Necmettin Erbakan, in Tehran. (AFP)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad smiles during a welcoming ceremony for former Turkish prime minister and chief of the Islamic Refah party, Necmettin Erbakan, in Tehran. (AFP)

U. S. President Barack Obama gives a news conference after the closing of the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain. (R)

U. S. President Barack Obama gives a news conference after the closing of the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain. (R)

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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