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Iran charges U.S. journalist with spying

TEHRAN, Iran — Roxana Saberi, an American freelance journalist who has been in Iranian custody since January, has been charged with spying, Tehran's deputy prosecutor, Hassan Haddad, said Wednesday, according to the ISNA news agency.

"Her case has been sent to the revolutionary court. She, without press credentials, was carrying out spying activities under the guise of being a reporter," Haddad was quoted as saying by the news agency.

"The evidence is mentioned in her case papers, and she has accepted all the charges. She has been arrested under the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran." He said he would provide more details "after the verdict is given."

Haddad said that the case is in court now. Saberi's lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshai, said he hadn't seen the charges yet nor had he been present at any court session. "There are different punishments for different levels of spying," Khorramshai said, adding that he would get to read the charges on Saturday.

Saberi's parents were allowed to meet with their daughter Monday and said she was in relatively good health and was allowed to read and watch television.

Saberi, who was born in the United States but also holds an Iranian passport, reportedly was initially detained for buying alcohol, which is prohibited in Iran. Before her press card was revoked by Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance for unknown reasons in 2007, Saberi worked on a freelance basis for the BBC, National Public Radio and Fox News.

Nuclear program talks

The Obama administration said Wednesday that it will participate directly in group talks with Iran over its suspect nuclear program, another significant shift from President George W. Bush's policy toward a nation he labeled part of an axis of evil.

"We believe that pursuing very careful engagement on a range of issues that affect our interests and the interests of the world with Iran makes sense," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters. "There is nothing more important than trying to convince Iran to cease its efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon."

The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic Revolution and the hostage taking at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

Iran charges U.S. journalist with spying 04/08/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 8, 2009 9:35pm]
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