American-Iranian Journalist Roxana Saberi Leaves Iran

Sentence Reduced But Saberi Not Acquitted Of Espionage Charges

Reporter was arrested while buying a bottle of wine, which is illegal in Iran

Tehran, Iran (RPRN) 5/15/2009--The American journalist recently freed from an Iranian prison has left Iran.Associates of Roxana Saberi say she left the country early Friday aboard a flight to Austria from Tehran’s Imam Khomeini airport.

The plane landed in Vienna several hours later.

After her release from prison, her father, Reza Saberi, said her family was preparing to take her back to the United States. There are no direct flights between Iran and the United States.

The 32-year-old journalist, a dual American-Iranian citizen, was arrested in January while buying a bottle of wine, which is illegal in Iran. She was convicted last month of espionage.

After Saberi’s lawyer appealed the court’s decision, a judge reduced her sentence and freed her from prison on Monday.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Saberi said she had no immediate plans and just wanted to relax with her family.

One of Saberi’s lawyers said the spy charges against her were based on documents she obtained on the U.S. war in Iraq.

The attorney, Saleh Nikbakht, said the journalist made copies of the confidential report, prepared by a strategic research center at the Iranian president’s office. He did not say how Saberi managed to obtain the documents, and said she never used the information.

Iran’s intelligence minister Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi maintained Wednesday that Saberi was guilty of spying, noting that her reduced sentence meant she had not been acquitted of all charges.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters

Photo top-left – NECN.com