TEHRAN, Iran, (AP) – Iran’s foreign minister assured his visiting Japanese counterpart that the case of an American journalist imprisoned in Tehran for allegedly spying for the United States will get a fair review on appeal.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said 32-year-old Roxana Saberi’s appeal will be “reviewed justly and humanely.” He spoke at a joint news conference Saturday with Japan’s Hirofumi Nakasone, who expressed concern over the case during his visit to Iran.
Saberi is a dual Iranian-American citizen who was born in Fargo, North Dakota. Her father is Iranian and her mother is Japanese. She was arrested in January in Tehran and sentenced last month to eight years in prison after a one-day trial behind closed doors. Her case has raised an international outcry and her lawyer in Iran has appealed the verdict.
Saberi’s father, who is in Iran with her mother trying to persuade the government to release Saberi, said last week she had gone on a hunger strike after she was convicted and has since become “very weak.” Iran’s judiciary denies she is on hunger strike.
Washington has called the spying charges against Saberi “baseless” and insisted Iran release her. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week reiterated those appeals.
The case has been a source of tension between the U.S. and Iran at a time when the Obama administration is reaching out to Tehran after decades of diplomatic stalemate.
Saberi was working as a freelance reporter for organizations including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp. before her arrest.