US President Barack Obama is said to be “deeply disappointed” by Iran’s decision to jail American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi for eight years on spying charges.
The American-born freelance reporter’s parents say their daughter was coerced into making statements that led to her conviction, despite later retracting them.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: “I think he’s deeply disappointed by this news. His thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. I think we will continue to express the concerns that we have through the Swiss to the Iranian government.”
Saberi’s imprisonment could become a source of tension between the US and Iran at a time when Washington is trying to reach out to the Islamic Republic following three decades of mutual mistrust.
There was mixed reaction on the streets of Tehran.
“Considering US-Iranian relations are getting better, and this woman has duel nationality, both American and Iranian, I wish this verdict had not been issued,” said one female resident.
A man who gave his name as Yashar said: “In my opinion, if this woman really has embarked on espionage, she should be punished and be subject to the punishment the law imposes for espionage and she should get the punishment.”
The Paris-based media rights group Reporters Without Borders says Iran is using trumped-up spying charges to arrest journalists and tighten the muzzle on free expression.