roxana_saberi.jpgU.S. journalist Roxana Saberi walked free from a Tehran prison Monday, one day after her sentence on spy charges was cut to a suspended two-year term.

Saberi left Evin prison, where she had been held since January.  Her lawyers had appealed her original eight-year sentence on Sunday. (Photo, right, Roxana Saberi in a 2004 National Press Photographers association file image)

Her father, Reza Saberi, was waiting outside the prison.  He said he hopes to return to the United States with his daughter in the coming days.

The 32-year-old freelance journalist was found guilty last month on charges of espionage.  Her family and the U.S. government said the charges against her were baseless and demanded her release. 

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington continues to take issue with Saberi’s case, but is very heartened that she has been released.  

The journalist’s case generated support from human and media rights groups internationally and caused new tensions between Washington and Tehran just as the two began a cautious rapprochement.

Saberi’s father said the journalist ended a hunger strike last Monday at Evin prison after refusing to eat for nearly two weeks.  Witnesses to Sunday’s closed-door proceedings say Saberi appeared tired and thin when she arrived at the courthouse.

Iran’s judiciary denied Saberi staged a hunger protest.  Iranian officials have also criticized international involvement in the case, saying the judiciary is independent and outside interference contradicts international norms. 

Authorities had initially said she was detained for working in Iran after her work permit had expired.  She was later charged with espionage, which can carry the death penalty.

VOA News – Some information for its report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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