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Journalist jailed in Iran may seek pardon

  • Story Highlights
  • U.S. reporter jailed in Iran may appeal to Supreme Leader for pardon, father says
  • Roxana Saberi, 32, was convicted of espionage in one-day, closed trial
  • Saberi has freelanced for NPR; Iran revoked her press credentials in 2006
From Shirzad Bozorgmehr
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TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- A U.S. journalist imprisoned for spying in Iran may appeal to the Islamic republic's Supreme Leader for a pardon, her father told CNN on Thursday.

"We will do whatever is necessary to free our daughter," Reza Saberi said.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been Supreme Leader of Iran since 1989.

Any pardon request for Roxana Saberi will depend on the results of her appeal, her father said. The 32-year-old Iranian American journalist was tried and convicted on espionage charges in a one-day trial that was closed to the public nearly two weeks ago. She was sentenced to serve eight years in prison.

Saberi is appealing her verdict, and Iranian authorities have said they will make sure her appeals process is quick and fair.

She has launched a hunger strike to protest her confinement in Tehran's Evin prison, which houses many Iranian dissidents and political prisoners.

Iran's attorney general, Hojjatoleslam Dorri Najafabadi, said Thursday that Saberi's case "will go through its legal process like other cases," according to Iran's unofficial Shahab news Web site.

He also said the initial verdict is not final and could be changed by the court of appeals, Shahab reported.

Saberi's case has prompted sharp denunciations from U.S. President Obama as well as other U.S. and international officials.

Iranian officials initially said Saberi was held for buying a bottle of wine. The Foreign Ministry later said she was detained for reporting without proper credentials.

Saberi has been living in Iran since 2003, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a journalists' advocacy group.

She has freelanced for National Public Radio and other news organizations, and was writing a book about Iranian culture.

Iranian authorities revoked her press credentials in 2006, but Saberi continued to file short news items without permission, the journalistm group said.

Saberi was detained in January, although no formal charges were disclosed. On April 9, word emerged that Saberi had been charged with espionage.

"Without press credentials and under the name of being a reporter, she was carrying out espionage activities," Hassan Haddad, a deputy public prosecutor, told the Iranian Students News Agency.

Authorities also said Saberi had confessed. Her father said he thinks she was coerced into making damaging statements.

Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights activist, has joined Saberi's legal team. Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.

All About IranNational Public Radio Inc.

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