Middle East

Lawyer Discloses New Details In Saberi Case

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Key Dates In Saberi Case

Jan. 31 — Roxana Saberi is arrested in Iran.


April 8 — Saberi, who is being held at Tehran's Evin prison, is charged with espionage.


April 13 — The American journalist appears for a one-day trial held behind closed doors.


April 18 — Saberi is sentenced to eight years in prison by Iran's Revolutionary Court.


April 25 — Reza Saberi announces that his daughter has already begun a hunger strike, which lasts for two weeks. Roxana Saberi's attorney appeals the conviction.


May 11 — Saberi is released from Evin prison after an appeals court cuts her jail term to a two-year suspended sentence.

A lawyer for Roxana Saberi, the American journalist who was convicted of espionage last month in Iran, disclosed new details about her case Wednesday, telling NPR that the Iranian prosecutor in the case had claimed Saberi was actively recruited by a CIA agent.

Saberi, who has worked as a freelance reporter for NPR and other news organizations, was released from Evin prison in Tehran on Monday after an appeals court reduced the eight-year sentence she received on charges of espionage to a two-year suspended sentence. She is expected to leave Iran soon for the United States.

Before Wednesday, what was known about the evidence Iranian authorities used to level charges against Saberi was this: She had copied a confidential document belonging to the Expediency Council, an agency of the Iranian government connected to the office of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, that concerned the U.S. war in Iraq. And she had traveled to Israel, which the authorities claimed was suspicious and illegal. She acknowledged traveling to Israel to seek work as a journalist.

One of her attorneys, Saleh Nikbakht, said Wednesday that the prosecution's case also included the allegation that Saberi had met with a person identified only as Mr. Peterson, who told her he worked for the CIA and tried to recruit her into the agency.

"She said that yes, she had met a Mr. Peterson," Nikbakht told NPR, "and that Mr. Peterson asked her to work for the CIA. But she took it as a joke, and didn't take him seriously."

It appears that in an earlier interrogation, Saberi had been questioned about this Mr. Peterson and had given answers that she then recanted during the appeals procedure. She told the appeals court, according to Nikbakht, that "what she said about Peterson earlier had been a lie."

It is not known where and when she met Peterson.

As for the trips to Israel, during the appeals procedure, Saberi said she had traveled to Israel "for fun as a tourist," Nikbakht said.

The authorities also said Saberi was in possession of a report from the Center for Strategic Studies, which is connected to the office of Iran's president. But that report was determined to be unclassified.

In the end, the appeals court dismissed all the charges and claims against her, with the sole exception of the document from the Expediency Council that she kept.

Davar Iran Ardalan contributed to this report.



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