Iran Claimed US Reporter had Confidential Report

May 13, 2009

(ChatahBox)—A statement from a defense attorney of U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi, recently released from an Iranian prison, reveals more details regarding Saberi’s arrest and imprisonment. Her attorney Saleh Nikbakht, said she was in possession of a government report on the U.S. invasion of Iraq that Iran considered secret and she was arrested for espionage.

This information sheds more light on the reason for Saberi’s arrest last January. At first Iranian officials claimed she was arrested for buying wine and later said she was working as a reporter with expired press credentials. Saberi has dual citizenship in both the U.S. and Iran, which Iran doesn’t recognize, making it difficult for U.S. officials to intervene on her behalf.

The secret report she was accused of possessing, was a report prepared by the Iranian president’s office before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. Saberi admitted to copying information from the report, but not using it. No details were provided by her lawyer on how she obtained the report.

In April, Saberi was found guilty of espionage and of cooperating with the U.S., considered a hostile country, and sentenced to eight years in prison. With a public outcry and U.S. officials demanding her release, she finally was released from prison just this week, two days after an Appeals court reduced her sentence to a suspended two-year sentence.

what does her release mean with respect to current and future U.S. relations with Iran? U.S. officials are not entirely sure, but agree it’s a positive sign. President Obama praised her release a “humanitarian gesture.”

With increasing tension between the U.S. over Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, Saberi’s arrest was viewed as a sign that Iran planned to take a hard line approach to any future talks with the U.S. Her release on Monday came as a surprise to many who have been watching the situation play out in the press.

Whether her release was a goodwill gesture by the Iranian government or whether Saberi was used as a bargaining tool to extract concessions from the U.S., no one knows for sure at this point.

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