Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 11:58 UK

Iran: Love letter plea for Saberi

Press and ID card of Roxana Sageri
Roxana Saberi has been in jail in Tehran since January

The partner of jailed US-Iranian reporter Roxana Saberi has written an emotional love letter in an attempt to have her freed.

Iranian film director Bahman Ghobadi, whose films have won prizes in Cannes and Berlin, said Ms Saberi was a victim of Iran's "political games".

He asked to be allowed to testify at her appeal, saying that "she is innocent and guiltless" of the charges.

Mr Ghobadi said he was worried about Ms Saberi's health and depressed state.

Speaking out publicly for the first time, Mr Ghobadi pleaded with the Iranian authorities to release Ms Saberi.

"I beg you to let her go! I beg you not to throw her in the midst of your political games! She is too weak and too pure to take part in your games," he wrote.

Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi
She is innocent and guiltless. It is me, who has known her for years, and shared every moment with her, who declares it
Iranian film director Bahman Ghobadi

The film director, who won a Golden Camera at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000, says Ms Saberi had been working on a book that was in praise of Iran.

"From the other side of the ocean, the Americans have protested against her imprisonment, because she is an American citizen. But I say no, she is Iranian, she loves Iran."

There are also growing concerns about the journalist's health. Mr Ghobadi said he had been told Ms Saberi was depressed, crying a lot and refusing to eat.

"My letter is a desperate call to all statesmen, and to all those who can do something to help."

On Tuesday, an Iranian judiciary spokesman said Ms Saberi's sentence might be reconsidered on appeal.

Shirin Ebadi, the winner of the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize, is said to be joining the defence team.

Ms Saberi was tried and sentenced behind closed doors by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Roxana Saberi grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, in what is described as a quiet, upscale neighbourhood. Recently, yellow ribbons have appeared around the trees near her parent's house.

"We need to show some sign of support," commented one neighbour.

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