Iran leader speaks on jailed reporter case

TEHRAN, April 19 (UPI) -- Iran's president released a letter Sunday urging prosecutors to ensure a jailed Iranian-American journalist accused of spying can freely defend herself.

The Islamic Republic News Agency reported President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's letter to Tehran's prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, called for the administration of justice in dealing with Roxana Saberi of Fargo, N.D., as well as another detained reporter, Hossein Derakhshan.


The Iranian news agency said the president's letter instructed the prosecutor to handle the case precisely, observe the administration of justice and ensure the accused can freely and legally defend themselves.

Ahmadinejad's letter came the day after it was announced Iran's revolutionary court had sentenced Saberi to prison for espionage.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama while in Trinidad and Tobago for a regional summit that he had "complete confidence" Saberi, 31, was not a spy, a White House transcript of his comments stated.

"Obviously I am gravely concerned with her safety and well-being," he said. 'We are working to make sure that she is properly treated and to get more information about the disposition of her case."

Saberi's father, Reza Saberi, told CNN Sunday she was being treated well.


"She has lost weight and she looks frail and weak," the elder Saberi told CNN. "She says she's not treated harshly. The food is pretty good and they're not hurting her. So it's just the environment of the prison that's very frustrating."

The younger Saberi, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen was convicted of espionage in a one-day trial. Reza Saberi said his daughter's lawyer has 20 days to file an appeal, after which "we will wait for the decision of the next court, the court of appeals, and see what they decide. We cannot do anything until they make a decision."

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