Iran: Freeing Roxana Saberi

The significance of Iran's decision to release a U.S. journalist it accused of espionage

What happened

Iran is reportedly releasing Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American freelance reporter sentenced to eight years in prison on spying charges. An appeals court held a hearing Sunday and threw out the original jail term, issuing a two-year suspended sentence instead. (The New York Times)

What the commentators said

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What a perfect demonstration of the "perverted nature of Iranian 'justice,'" said Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. The appeal took just five hours, "and it lasted longer than the original trial." The timing, however, is the most notable thing. It looks like Iran was using Saberi as a political pawn, as her release "seems calculated as an overture to the U.S., particularly to Barack Obama."

There's no question, said the AP in AOL News, that Saberi's arrest "caused tension between the United States and Iran at a time when President Barack Obama had said he wanted to engage Washington's longtime adversary in a dialogue." The case also focused some very negative media attention on Tehran—Saberi has worked for National Public Radio and the BBC, and she staged a hunger strike while in jail.

"Saberi's release is good news," said Glenn Greenwald in Salon. Saberi's case had become a cause célèbre with American reporters, and with good reason—the charges against her were "extremely dubious." It's too bad it took the jailing of one of their own to get American journalists to object to the jailing of a reporter. This kind of treatment of Muslim journalists overseas—"without charges or trials of any kind—was and continues to be a staple of America's 'war on terror.'"

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