Iran General NewsUS asks Iran to free reporter

US asks Iran to free reporter

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ImageAFP: The United States called Thursday on Iran to free a US-Iranian journalist accused of espionage, saying the Islamic republic would earn goodwill as the new US administration tries to engage it.

ImageWASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States called Thursday on Iran to free a US-Iranian journalist accused of espionage, saying the Islamic republic would earn goodwill as the new US administration tries to engage it.

State Department spokesman Robert Wood reiterated the US view that the charges against Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old reporter who faces the death penalty, were "baseless."

"We want to see her released. We're working hard to secure that release," Wood told reporters.

Wood also voiced concern about the lack of transparency in the trial, which opened Monday. He said the verdict was expected "soon."

Iran, which does not recognize the US-born Saberi's dual nationality, accuses her of spying for Washington and has held her since January. Saberi worked for US National Public Radio, the BBC and Fox News.

The trial comes despite overtures by US President Barack Obama for direct talks with Iran, an arch US foe since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Wood said the court action against Saberi was "certainly not helpful" to efforts to patch up.

"We think responding in a positive way to the Saberi case would be helpful in terms of winning goodwill on the part of the United States and the American people," he said.

But he signaled that Obama's overtures with Iran were not linked to the Saberi case.

"We've made a strategic decision to engage Iran directly in dialogue. We're committed to that," he said.

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