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Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 18:28 UK

Saberi's fate 'in judges' hands'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Roxama Saberi 'will not be mistreated'

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he will not intervene in the case of US-Iranian reporter Roxana Saberi, who has been jailed for spying.

In an ABC News interview, Mr Ahmadinejad said he did not "pass judgement over judicial cases".

Mr Ahmadinejad also added that he was "sure that she is not being mistreated" in prison in Tehran.

Separately, Ms Saberi's partner wrote 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".


I am not a judge... In Iran the judiciary is independent
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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

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

Ms Saberi was tried and sentenced behind close doors last week by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran. She was jailed for eight years on charges of being an American spy.

Her father says her appeal against the sentence could be heard as early as next week.

Non-committal

During the ABC News interview, President Ahmadinejad was asked whether he would free Ms Saberi as a humanitarian goodwill gesture, following US President Barack Obama's recent personal assurance that she was not a spy.

But the Iranian president stressed that it was up to the courts to decide what to do.

"I am not a judge, and I do not pass judgment over judicial cases," President Ahmadinejad said, in the interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos.

"In Iran, the judiciary is independent. I have stressed like others she should be accorded her full rights."

President Ahmadinejad was also non-committal when his interviewer asked to be allowed to see Roxana Saberi for himself to check that she was safe.



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