Iran General NewsIran says U.S.-Iranian reporter appeals jail term

Iran says U.S.-Iranian reporter appeals jail term

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ImageReuters: Jailed Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi has appealed against her eight-year sentence for spying against Iran, the official IRNA news agency said on Tuesday.

ImageTEHRAN (Reuters) – Jailed Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi has appealed against her eight-year sentence for spying against Iran, the official IRNA news agency said on Tuesday.

Saberi, 31, was sentenced on Saturday on charges of spying for the United States, in a verdict that could complicate Washington's efforts toward reconciliation with the Islamic Republic after three decades of mutual mistrust.

"Saberi has appealed and I hope that the appeal court will change the verdict," IRNA quoted judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi as saying.

Saberi's lawyer had said on Monday he would appeal the sentence next week, telling Reuters he was "very hopeful and optimistic" that she would be acquitted or at least have her sentence cut.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on Tehran's general prosecutor to ensure that the freelance reporter enjoys full legal rights to defend herself. The judiciary chief has said the case must be dealt with "in a careful, quick and fair way."

"The appeal court will issue its verdict in an appropriate time," Jamshidi said.

Saberi, a citizen of both the United States and Iran, was arrested in January for working in the Islamic state after her press credentials had expired in 2006.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday expressed deep concern for her safety, urging Tehran to release her.

Tehran says Washington should respect the independence of Iran's judiciary. Iran does not recognize dual nationality status.

"Saberi has entered Iran with her Iranian passport and she did not confess about her dual nationality at the time of her apprehension," IRNA quoted Iran's Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei as saying on Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said releasing Saberi, who has worked for the BBC and U.S. National Public Radio (NPR), would serve as a goodwill gesture.

Obama is seeking to engage Iran on a range of issues, including its disputed nuclear program. Iran says it wants to see "practical" changes in U.S. policies. Washington cut diplomatic ties with Iran shortly after the country's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Reporters Without Borders, the Paris-based media rights group, has called Saberi's conviction "unjust under the Iranian criminal code," saying it was a warning to foreign reporters working in Iran ahead of its June presidential election.

(Reporting by Hossein Jaseb, Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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