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Page last updated at 08:08 GMT, Tuesday, 5 May 2009 09:08 UK

Iran to hear US reporter appeal

Undated photo released by the family of imprisoned Iranian-American shows journalist Roxana Saberi in Tehran, Iran
Ms Saberi has been held in Tehran's Evin prison since January

An appeal will begin next week for US-Iranian reporter Roxana Saberi, who was sentenced to eight years in jail for spying, an Iranian official has said.

Ms Saberi's father says she has been on a hunger strike since she was sentenced behind closed doors last month by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Iranian officials have denied the claim, saying she is in good health.

US President Barack Obama has dismissed the spying charges as baseless and appealed for her release.

The 32-year-old US-born freelance journalist had appealed against the verdict through her lawyer.

"There has been a date set for next week," judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi told a news conference, giving no further details.

Iranian authorities earlier said they would hear her appeal fairly and quickly.

Hunger strike

The official denied Ms Saberi's father's claim that she has been on a hunger strike since 21 April.

"I asked the deputy prosecutor two days ago. He said that she is in complete health and not on hunger strike," Mr Jamshidi said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has refused to intervene in the case, saying the courts acted independently and that she will be accorded her full rights.

The journalist has been in jail in Tehran since January.

She originally faced the less serious accusation of buying alcohol, and later of working as a reporter without a valid press card.

Then, in a period of less than two weeks, the charge of spying was introduced, and she was tried and sentenced behind closed doors by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Ms Saberi, who holds dual US and Iranian citizenship, has spent six years in Iran studying and writing a book.



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