A U.S. journalist imprisoned for spying in Iran and in the midst of a hunger strike was admitted to the prison hospital to receive nourishment, her father said Tuesday.
Roxana Saberi was taken to the hospital at Tehran’s Evin prison on Friday and was fed intravenously before being returned to her cell, according to Reza Saberi, who said his daughter looked “weak and frail” when he saw her on Monday. The 32-year-old Iranian-American journalist was tried and convicted on espionage charges in a one-day trial last month that was closed to the public. She was sentenced to serve eight years in prison. Saberi is appealing her verdict, and Iranian authorities have said they will make sure her appeals process is quick and fair. She launched her hunger strike to protest her confinement at Evin, which houses many Iranian dissidents and political prisoners. Iran’s attorney general, Hojjatoleslam Dorri Najafabadi, said last month that Saberi’s case “will go through its legal process like other cases,” according to Iran’s unofficial Shahab news Web site. He also said the initial verdict is not final and could be changed by the court of appeals, Shahab reported. Saberi’s case has prompted sharp denunciations from President Obama and other U.S. and international officials.
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Iranian officials initially said Saberi was held for buying a bottle of wine. The Foreign Ministry later said she was detained for reporting without proper credentials. Saberi has been living in Iran since 2003, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a journalists’ advocacy group. She has freelanced for National Public Radio and other news organizations, and was writing a book about Iranian culture. Iranian authorities revoked her press credentials in 2006, but Saberi continued to file short news items without permission, CPJ said. Saberi was detained in January, although no formal charges were disclosed. On April 9, word emerged that she had been charged with espionage. “Without press credentials and under the name of being a reporter, she was carrying out espionage activities,” Hassan Haddad, a deputy public prosecutor, told the Iranian Students News Agency. Authorities also said Saberi had confessed. Her father said he thinks she was coerced into making damaging statements. Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian human rights activist, has joined Saberi’s legal team. Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003.