United States 'deeply disappointed' as Iran convicts reporter

Sunday, April 19, 2009

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran convicted an American journalist of spying for the U.S. and sentenced her to eight years in prison, her lawyer said Saturday, complicating the Obama administration's efforts to break a 30-year-old diplomatic deadlock with Tehran.

The White House said President Obama was "deeply disappointed" by the conviction, while the journalist's father told a radio station his daughter was tricked into making incriminating statements by officials who told her they would free her if she did.

It was the first time Iran has found an American journalist guilty of espionage -- a crime that can carry the death penalty.

Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen, was arrested in late January and initially accused of working without press credentials. But earlier this month, an Iranian judge leveled a far more serious allegation, charging her with spying for the United States.

The Fargo, North Dakota native had been living in Iran for six years and had worked as a freelance reporter for several news organizations.

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