TEHRAN — An Iranian-American journalist who was sentenced to eight years in jail on charges of spying for Washington was released Monday after an appeals court reduced the sentence, her lawyer said. The journalist, Roxana Saberi, will be able to leave the country, he said.
The lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, who defended Ms. Saberi in a hearing on Sunday, said the court rejected the original jail term and issued a two-year suspended prison term in its place.
“The verdict was given to me in person today,” Mr. Nikbakht said. “The appeals court has accepted our defense.”
Ms. Saberi had been held in Evin prison in Tehran since January. Her father, Reza Saberi, told journalists that Ms. Saberi was “exhausted but in good condition.” He added: “Her release was a big surprise.”
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a news briefing at the State Department that Ms. Saberi had been reunited with her family and that she would leave Tehran for the United States in the coming days.
So far there’s no indication that there was any quid pro quo — at least anything overt — to secure her reduced sentence, although I have my doubts that the court came to this conclusion based on the law and the briefs put forth by her attorneys. My guess is that there is some expectation of reciprocity by the Iranians from the Obama administration. That, or this was a test of President Obama by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and he passed.
Whatever; I’m glad she’s free and coming home.