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US journalist freed from Iran arrives in Austria | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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VIENNA (AP) – Roxana Saberi’s bright smile, poise and calm demeanor Friday morning were a testament to her resilience after spending four months in an Iranian prison on spying charges.

Upon landing in Austria to recuperate, the 32-year-old American journalist paid tribute to those who supported her during her time in captivity.

“I heard that certain people, many people, went through a lot of troubles because of me,” said Saberi, who at one point went on a hunger strike.

“Both journalists and non-journalists around the world, I’ve been hearing, supported me very much and it was very moving for me to hear this.”

Saberi, accompanied by her parents and an unidentified male, said she planned to spend several days in the Austrian capital so she could begin to come to terms with her ordeal.

“I came to Vienna because I heard it was a calm and relaxing place,” Saberi said. “I know you have many questions but I need some more time to think about what happened to me over the past couple of days.” Her father, Reza Saberi, said they were staying with a friend in Austria.

Saberi, wearing a short red coat and white scarf, made special mention of Austria’s ambassador to Iran and his family, whom she described as “very helpful.”

“I want to thank him again, and his family, and all the other people and nations in the world who helped us during this time,” she said.

Referring to several statements made about her case over the past few days, Saberi stressed she was the only one who knew what really happened.

“Nobody knows about it as well as I do and I will talk about it more in the future, I hope, but I am not prepared at this time,” she said.

Saberi did not specify how long she planned to stay in Austria, saying only: “We’re going to stay here for at least a few days and then go on to the United States.” She said it was still unclear if she would also travel to France, where a film she co-scripted premiered at the Cannes Film festival on Thursday. The film’s director is Saberi’s partner.

The 32-year-old journalist, who grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, and moved to Iran six years ago, was arrested in late January and was convicted of spying for the United States in a closed-door trial that her Iranian-born father said lasted only 15 minutes.

Saberi’s mother, Akiko, also thanked all those who supported her daughter over the past few months. “We’re just so happy to be here,” she said. She was freed on Monday and reunited with her parents, who had come to Iran to seek her release, after an appeals court reduced her sentence to a two-year suspended sentence.

The United States had said the charges against Saberi were baseless and repeatedly demanded her release. The case against her had become on obstacle to President Barack Obama’s ttempts at dialogue with the top U.S. adversary in the Middle East.

At one point, Saberi held a hunger strike to protest her imprisonment, but she ended it after two weeks when her parents, visiting her in prison, asked her to stop because her health was weakening.

Saberi had worked as a freelance journalist for several organizations, including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp.

After her arrest, Iranian authorities initially accused her of working without press credentials, but later leveled the far more serious charge of spying. Iran released few details about the allegations that she passed intelligence to the U.S.