Iran’s appeals court to hear US journalist’s espionage case next week

US reporter’s appeal to be heard next week in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian appeals court will hear the case of an American journalist convicted of spying for the United States next week, the judiciary spokesman said Tuesday.

Roxana Saberi, whose father says she has been on a hunger strike for two weeks, was convicted last month of passing intelligence to the U.S. and sentenced to eight years in prison after a one-day trial behind closed doors.

“Her case has been referred to an appeals court where it is being studied. A date has been set for next week,” judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi told reporters Tuesday, without specifying the exact date. “Experts from the Bar Association, the Intelligence Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office have been invited to attend the court session.”

Jamshidi denied that Saberi was on a hunger strike or that she was hospitalized in Evin prison where she has been held since her arrest in January.

Reza Saberi, Roxana’s father, said that his daughter went on a hunger strike April 21st and that she was weak, while press freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, added that the 32-year-old journalist was briefly hospitalized at a prison clinic Friday until she started drinking water again.

“She is in good health and not on a hunger strike. Physically, she is in good shape too,” Jamshidi told a press conference.

The United States has described the accusations against Saberi, a dual Iranian-American citizen who was born in the U.S. and raised in Fargo, North Dakota, baseless and called for her release.

The case has been a source of tension between Washington and Iran at a time when the Obama administration has said it wants to engage its longtime adversary.

Saberi moved to Iran six years ago and worked as a freelance journalist for news organizations including National Public Radio before her arrest in January.

She was initially accused of working without press credentials, but authorities later made the more serious charge that she had passed intelligence to the U.S.

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