04/27/2009, 00.00
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Roxana Saberi on hunger strike in Iranian prison

The journalist’s father says his daughter is not in a bad condition but is “physically frail and desperate”. Following appeals by Obama and Clinton some hope looms. For Reporters Without Borders her arrest is “warning” to journalists working in the country.

Tehran (AsiaNews) – US-Iranian reporter Roxana Saberi, who was sentenced to eight years in prison on espionage charges, has been on a hunger strike for the past six days, her father said. Reza Saberi added that his daughter, 31, was not in a bad condition, but was “physically frail and desperate”.

The journalist whose dual citizenship is not recognised in Iran even if she was born in the United States now has to place all her hope in the appeal process, this according to Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, Saberi's defence lawyer, who was quoted in the Iranian Student's News Agency (ISNA).

US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have called for Ms Saberi’s release.

The US secretary of state said that Saberi’s release would serve as a goodwill gesture.

For some observers the case appears to be an attempt to thwart President Obama’s overture to Iran.

For Reporters Without Borders, the arrest was a warning to foreign reporters working in Iran.

In his response to the US request, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent mixed signals. On the one hand, he said that Iranian law should be respected. On the other he told the general prosecutor to ensure that Saberi enjoys full legal rights to defend herself. The latter said her appeal will be dealt with "in a careful, quick and fair way".

The journalist was detained in late January for working in the Islamic Republic without accreditation, a charge that was eventually changed to espionage.

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