Agence France Presse (April 19 2009):
In a rare intervention in judicial proceedings, Ahmadinejad said the Tehran prosecutor should examine the case against both Saberi and Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian-Canadian blogger who has been behind bars since November, IRNA said.
“At the president’s insistence, you must do what is needed to secure justice … in examining these people’s charges,” said a letter from Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff Abdolreza Sheikholeslami to Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi.
“Take care that the defendants have all the legal freedoms and rights to defend themselves against the charges,” the letter said.
Saberi, 31, a former US beauty queen, was convicted of spying for the United States during a closed-door trial and sentenced to eight years in jail, in a verdict unveiled on Saturday.
US President Barack Obama, who has called for dialogue with Iran since he took office in January, was “deeply disappointed” at the sentence, according to his spokesman.
The State Department branded the espionage charges as “baseless,” while Saberi’s father has said his daughter was “tricked” into confessing by being told she would be released.
Saberi’s lawyer has said he would appeal the verdict, which is the harshest sentence ever to a dual national on security charges in Iran.
She has been held since late January, when she was initially reported to have been arrested for buying alcohol, an illegal act in the Islamic republic.
Derakhshan, a prominent blogger, has been detained since his arrival in Iran in November 2008 and is being investigated on charges of insulting Shiite imams.
© 2009 AFP