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IRAN: Ahmadinejad and the jailed journalist

Saberi Is it an odd, perhaps even surreal, request?

A day after an American-Iranian journalist was sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of spying for the U.S. -- in a trial human-rights groups and media organizations have condemned as a sham – President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged prosecutors to ensure fairness and justice.

That’s the opposite of what Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old freelance journalist, received during her nearly three-month imprisonment and one-day trial, according to her family and international rights groups. Her lawyer barely had time to prepare for the case; proceedings were held behind closed doors. Iranian authorities said Saberi confessed; her father claims she was coerced and tricked.

The verdict sent a chill through the Obama administration’s overtures to improve relations with Tehran. What’s next in Saberi’s case or in the decades-old U.S.-Iranian drama? Nobody knows. But Ahmadinejad’s letter to prosecutors today once again prompted a bit of head-scratching about what Iran is contemplating.

The letter tells prosecutors that during Saberi's appeal: “Please, personally observe the process to ensure that the defendants are allowed all legal rights and freedom in defending themselves and that their rights are not violated even by one iota.”   

-- Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo

Photo: Roxana Saberi. Credit: AFP 

Comments () | Archives (3)

So the Iranian President IS aware that under normal circumstances the trials are not fair, freedoms, and rights are routinely violated. Why else make public a letter emphasizing the need to ensure "all legal rights and freedom in defending themselves and that their rights are not violated even by one iota.”

If Ahmedinejad's personal intervention is heeded, and the journalist released, it will be a clear message to Obama and the US that Ahmedinejad is the man in Iran to do business with. The clerics do play politics but prefer a more low key role. The entire episode may have in fact been stage managed behind the scenes by Khatami to legitimize Ahmedinejad as the visible face of moderate Iran. The Iranians genuinely want peace and a respectful relationship with the US. Obama and Hillary have handled world leaders with masterful dignity - Medvedev, Chavez, and Castro. Only Kim Jong Il is petulant and he will quietly come around perhaps with Madeline Albright having a quiet talk with him, since they two appear to have a good rapport. America is fortunate to have Obama's leadership. His calm and dignified presence itself is enough to smooth ruffled feathers.

Ms. Roxana Saberi: Guilty or Innocent

Based on Iranian sources, Iranian-American journalist Ms. Roxana Saberi has implicated herself by her testimony. Guilty or innocent, she is also a victim of the political conflicts between USA and Iran, the conflicts mostly created by the past President George Bush and instigated by Israeli government and her assets.

Our previous attempts to undermine the Iranian government by creating conflict in Iran have sharpened Iranian government scrutiny of all Iranian-Americans traveling to their homeland. It is a common knowledge that our past foreign policy has severely hurt Iranian-Americans both in USA and Iran, in addition to hurting common Iranian people.

We hope Iranian President Ahmadinejad will pardon Ms. Roxana Saberi now. We hope President Obama will stop the dirty trick agenda of the past-Presidents since 1979, and will establish now a formal political relation with Iran.


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