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Iran judiciary to hear appeal of US journalist next week

[JURIST] Spokesperson for the Iranian judiciary Alireza Jamshidi said Tuesday that the appeal of US journalist Roxana Saberi [advocacy website; JURIST news archive] will be heard next week. Saberi was convicted [JURIST report] of spying for the US and sentenced to eight years in jail in Evin, an Iranian jail noted for its population of dissidents and political prisoners. Saberi reportedly began a hunger strike [BBC report] on April 21 in protest of her conviction, and her family reports that she has recently been hospitalized and fed intravenously [CNN report], though Jamshidi denied that she was on a hunger strike at all. Reporters in Paris and New York have gone on hunger strikes in solidarity [WashingtonTV report] with Saberi, protesting outside Iran Air offices and the UN respectively.

On Sunday, the Iranian foreign minister vowed that Saberi's appeal would be handled fairly [JURIST report]. Iran's treatment of Saberi has provoked a great deal of international criticism. Last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [official website] emphasized her disappointment [press release] in Iran's judiciary for their treatment of the case. Also last month, Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged [press release] the necessity of Saberi's release based on the assertion of her position as a "prisoner of conscience," serving as "a pawn to the ongoing political developments between Iran and the USA." Saberi was originally arrested [NYT report] in March after buying a bottle of wine, as alcohol consumption is illegal under Iranian law. Although it was initially believed Saberi would be charged with working without Iranian press credentials, the Iranian government charged her with espionage [JURIST report], accusing her of passing classified information to US intelligence services.

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