April 5, 2009 / 3:54 PM / 11 years ago

Iran formally charges jailed U.S. journalist: lawyer

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran’s judiciary has issued formal charges against a jailed Iranian-American freelance journalist, her lawyer said on Sunday.

The parents of Roxana Saberi, detained in Iran since January 31, arrived in Tehran on Sunday from the United States to meet their daughter, lawyer Abdolsamad Khorramshahi said.

“The indictment has been sent to the branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court,” Khorramshahi said. “I will see the indictment in the coming days. I have no information about the charges.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Court handles security-related charges.

Khorramshahi said Reza and Kiko Saberi would be allowed to meet their daughter on Monday in prison.

Iran says Saberi was arrested for working in the country after her press credentials had expired. Her parents found out about her arrest in a February 10 phone call from her.

“She should not have engaged in collecting news and information illegally,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said in March.

Saberi, a 31-year-old Iranian-American born in the United States, has reported for the BBC, NPR and other media.

Her parents have appealed to Iran’s most powerful authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for their daughter’s release, saying she was in a “critical” mental condition.

Iran’s judiciary said in March that Saberi would be freed “within a few days.” But she is still held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison.

Saberi grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, and is a dual citizen of the United States and Iran. She has lived in Iran for six years.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said last week the United States had given a letter to Iranian officials during a meeting in Europe, seeking Iran’s help in resolving the cases of Roxana Saberi and two other Americans missing or detained in Iran.

The returns of Saberi, Robert Levinson and Esha Momeni would be a humanitarian gesture, the letter said.

Levinson, a retired FBI agent from Coral Springs, Florida, was last seen on Iran’s Kish Island on March 8, 2007. He disappeared in Iran while investigating cigarette smuggling for a client of his private security firm.

Momeni, a dual U.S. and Iranian national, was visiting Tehran to research a master’s thesis on the women’s rights movement in Iran. Momeni was arrested October 15 on a traffic violation.

Tehran, which does not recognize dual nationality, denies receiving any such letter. Tehran and Washington cut diplomatic ties shortly after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.

Editing by Angus MacSwan

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