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Associated Press, Published May 04 2009

Iran says Saberi's case will get fair review

TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s foreign minister assured his visiting Japanese counterpart that the case of Roxana Saberi, imprisoned in Tehran for allegedly spying for the United States, will get a fair review on appeal.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the 32-year-old Fargo-raised journalist’s appeal will be “reviewed justly and humanely.” He spoke at a joint news conference Saturday with Japan’s Hirofumi Nakasone, who expressed concern over the case during his visit to Iran.

Saberi was arrested in January in Tehran and sentenced last month to eight years in prison after a one-day trial behind closed doors. Her case has raised an international outcry, and her lawyer in Iran has appealed the verdict.

Saberi’s father, who is in his native Iran with her mother trying to persuade the government to release Saberi, said last week she had gone on a hunger strike after she was convicted and has since become “very weak.” Iran’s judiciary denies she is on hunger strike.

Washington has called the spying charges against Saberi “baseless” and insisted Iran release her. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton last week reiterated those appeals.

The case has been a source of tension between the U.S. and Iran at a time when the Obama administration is reaching out to Tehran after decades of diplomatic stalemate.

Saberi was working as a freelance reporter for organizations including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp. before her arrest.

Two join in hunger strike

DENVER – Thirty-one-year-old Denver blogger Mari Kurisato and 31-year-old Concordia graduate Sara Hall of Eagle are among dozens of volunteers across the country taking part in a hunger strike in support of Saberi.

On Sunday, the FreeRoxana campaign launched a protest in which people will fast in 24-hour shifts so Saberi can end her fast.

The Web site is http://freeroxana.net.

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