...TEHRAN — U.S.-born journalist Roxana Saberi walked free Monday after an Iranian appeals court cut her eight-year jail sentence for spying to a suspended two-year term.
Her release resolved a case that had further strained U.S.-Iranian relations, at a time when U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking to reach out to Tehran after three decades of mutual mistrust.
A judiciary source said Saberi, who was jailed on April 18 on charges of spying for the United States, could leave Iran, and her father suggested it would happen soon.
"Roxana is well and is staying at a relative's home tonight ... The exact date of our departure is not clear but we should get ready for our trip to America," said Reza Saberi, who moved to the United States in the early 1970s.
He was speaking after the 32-year-old freelance journalist was released from Tehran's Evin prison, where rights groups say political prisoners are usually held.
A citizen of both the United States and Iran, Saberi was arrested in late January for working in the Islamic Republic after her press credentials had expired. She was later charged with espionage, a charge that can carry the death sentence.
Iran frees jailed U.S.-born journalist | Comcast.netSaberi, who has worked for the BBC and U.S. National Public Radio, was released one day after a Tehran court held a hearing on her case that was closed to the public.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last month called for Saberi to be given full legal rights to defend herself and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said her sentence would be reviewed based on "human and Islamic kindness."
"I'm very satisfied and happy about the ruling. We expected her to be freed but not this soon," said Reza Saberi, 68, who came to Tehran last month with his Japanese wife Akiko to follow their daughter's case.
One of her defense lawyers, Saleh Nikbakht, told the ISNA news agency the court had acquitted her of spying but sentenced her under a law covering violations including taking pictures or videotaping in areas where photography is banned.
She would be banned from doing any reporting work in Iran for five years, her main lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, said.
Saberi, a former Miss North Dakota, looked thin and tired at Sunday's court session. Last week, her father said she had ended a two-week hunger strike and was "very weak." The judiciary denied she had refused food and said she was in good health.
Tehran, which does not recognize dual nationality, said throughout the case that Washington should respect the independence of Iran's judiciary.
Good News for her.
About the only thing I agree with the Iranians on is not recognizing 'dual citizenry'..neither should the USA or IMO any nation on earth...The concept is ridiculous.