The head of Iran's judiciary has ordered a "quick" and "fair" appeal for jailed Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi.
A judiciary statement Monday said that Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi
Shahrudi issued the decree to Tehran's court system two days after
Saberi was sentenced to eight years in prison after her conviction on
charges of espionage.
The Associated Press says Saberi's parents visited her Monday, and said she seemed to be in good health.
In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeated U.S. calls
for Saberi to be released immediately. Clinton said she hoped that the
statements by the judiciary chief and Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad would lead to action.
Mr. Ahmadinejad on Sunday called on the judiciary to ensure that the
journalist will be allowed a full defense during the appeal process.
He made the request amid mounting international criticism of Saberi's trial, which was held behind closed doors.
Amnesty International Monday condemned the sentencing. An Iran
specialist for the rights group, Elise Auerbach, said the case lacks
credibility because Iranian authorities have not revealed any of the
evidence they might have against Saberi.
Auerbach added that the journalist has become "a pawn in the political maneuvering" between Iran and the United States.
Saberi's case comes at a time when U.S. President Barack Obama is
seeking a dialogue with Iran to ease decades of mistrust between the
Mr. Obama has expressed grave concern about Saberi's well being and
called for her release. He said Sunday that Washington is working to
make sure she is properly treated.
President Ahmadinejad's letter also called for full legal rights to be
granted to detained Iranian-Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan.
Derakhshan was detained in Iran last November on charges of insulting
religious figures. He is known as the "father" of the Iranian blogging
revolution for posting instructions on how to create online journals.
Saberi worked as a freelance journalist in Iran for several U.S. and
British news outlets. She was arrested in late January for allegedly
working in the country without valid press credentials. Her father says
she was tricked into making incriminating statements by Iranian
officials who told her that doing so would enable her release.