Iran convicts US journalist Roxana Saberi of spying


A court in Iran has sentenced an Iranian-American to 8 years in jail after she was convicted in a closed-door trial of being an American spy.

Roxana Saberi has been working in Iran as a freelance journalist for six years and was detained in Tehran two months ago.

Her lawyer told reporters he would appeal the conviction within 20 days.

The 31-year-old former Miss North Dakota has reported for a number of foreign news organizations including NPR, the BBC and Fox News.

Initially arrested for buying alcohol, which is a crime in Iran, Saberi was later cited for working as a journalist without a valid press card. Then, in a period of less than two weeks, Iranian officials announced the far more serious charges of espionage.

U.S. President Barack Obama “is deeply disappointed at this news. His thoughts and prayers are with her and her family,” his spokesman Robert Gibbs said in Trinidad, where the president was attending a Summit of the Americas.

Saberi holds two master’s degrees, from Northwestern University in the U.S. and from Cambridge University in the U.K. Her father was born in Iran and her mother grew up in Japan.