Thu, Apr 16, 2009 - Page 6 News List

US rejects Iran charges against reporter

AFP , WASHINGTON

The US said on Tuesday that Iran’s espionage charges against US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi were “baseless,” after a court put her on trial.

“The charges, as they have been reported, we maintain are baseless, without foundation,” US State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters.

“We remain committed to trying to secure her release,” he said.

Wood said the US was trying to confirm details of the case via the Swiss embassy in Tehran, which handles US interests in Iran in the absence of diplomatic relations.

Earlier on Tuesday, a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary said that a revolutionary court had started her trial. The 31-year-old risks the death penalty if convicted of spying for arch-foe the US.

US-born Saberi has reported for US-based National Public Radio, the BBC and Fox News, and had lived in Iran for six years.

She holds dual US and Iranian nationality, which the Islamic republic does not recognize. She has been held since January in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Her trial comes amid efforts by US President Barack Obama’s administration to reach out to Iran, which transformed from key US ally to sworn enemy after its 1979 Islamic revolution.

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