This is one of those stories where an individual's predicament has a direct effect on international relations, and at a time which could not be worse for Iran. Perhaps sensing the ramifications, Iran's President Ahmadinejad just released a statement calling for a full defense of Saberi. Hard-line clerics in Iran would like nothing more than to stall restoring a semblance of normal relations with the U.S. And since it is they, not the token leader Ahmadinejad who runs the show there it's hard to say where this will all end. There are also elections in June to consider when their current president could easily be replaced.
(Associated Press) Iran convicted an American journalist of spying for the United States and sentenced her to eight years in prison, her lawyer said Saturday, complicating the Obama administration's efforts to break a 30-year-old diplomatic deadlock with Tehran.
The White House said President Barack Obama was "deeply disappointed" by the conviction, while the journalist's father told a radio station his daughter was tricked into making incriminating statements by officials who told her they would free her if she did.
It was the first time Iran has found an American journalist guilty of espionage _ a crime that can carry the death penalty.
Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen, was arrested in late January and initially accused of working without press credentials. But earlier this month, an Iranian judge leveled a far more serious allegation, charging her with spying for the United States.
The Fargo, North Dakota native had been living in Iran for six years and had worked as a freelance reporter for several news organizations including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp.