Iranian Court to Hear Appeal of U.S. Journalist; Hunger Strike Ends

The appeal of U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi will be heard next week, an Iranian judiciary spokesman said Saturday, without stating a specific date.

Spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi told reporters this week that the appeal would be held behind closed doors and that the country's bar association, the intelligence ministry and the prosecutor's representative had been informed.

He also reiterated Iran's denial that Saberi is on a hunger strike in protest of her espionage conviction last month.

"She is in good health and not on a hunger strike. Physically, she is in good shape too," he reported during a news conference Tuesday.

The next day, Saberi's father reported that she did in fact end her two-week hunger strike, which led to a one-day hospitalization last week.

"Roxana called last night to inform me that she has ended her hunger strike," Reza Saberi told The Associated Press. "I'm relieved that she has done so to avoid a deterioration of her health."

Saberi was admitted to a prison hospital in Iran last Friday after she had switched from a sugar water-only fast to a complete fast altogether. The 32-year-old citizen of both the United States and Iran stopped taking liquids altogether in response to Iranian officials' claim that she was not on a hunger strike and that she was in "good condition."

"The hunger strike issue was raised by people who seek to exploit this issue for propaganda purposes," claimed Judge Hasan Haddad prior to her hospitalization, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

It has been nearly three weeks since Saberi was convicted of spying for the United States after a one-day closed-door trial that even her Iranian-born father was not allowed to attend. The freelance journalist was arrested in late January for purchasing alcohol – which is illegal in Iran – but charged on April 9 of spying for the United States.

Though Saberi had worked for news organizations including the National Public Radio (NPR), BBC, ABC and Fox, her press credentials had been revoked in 2006 and she had since been working illegally, according to Iran's foreign ministry. Her parents, however, say Saberi was writing a book when she was arrested and that she had hoped to finish it and return to the United States "for good" this year.

Saberi had moved to Iran about six years ago to learn more about her cultural heritage while working as a freelance journalist.

She had been scheduled to give the commencement address at her alma mater, Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., earlier this month.