Sunday, May 10, 2009

Iranian Court Hears Saberi's Review, Promises Quick Decision

A three-judge panel heard Rozan Saberi's appeal argument today during a closed-door hearing in Terhan. The panel promised a "meticulous process," for Saberi, who was sentenced to eight years in prison in April for espionage, according to Iranian spokesman Alireza Jamshidi as quoted by IRNA.

Saberi's father was not allowed inside the hearing. He has been in Tehran since her sentence advocating for her rights.

The appeals court could take more than a day to issue its verdict, Jamshidi said as he condemned U.S. officials for their criticism of Iran's handling of Saberi's case.

"As the Europeans confess, the Americans have the worst human-rights record," Jamshidi said.

Media reports say Saberi looked "pale and gaunt" when she arrived for the closed-door hearing.

Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, Saberi's lawyer, said: "I do hope and I am optimistic she will be acquitted. There is a probability that the appeal verdict will be issued today. I guess that the appeals court would substantially reduce the sentence."

Professor Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins School for Advanced International Studies told Edward Yeranian of VOANews that Saberi is not the first Iranian-American to be caught up in this type of politically motivated show-trial:
"Miss Saberi is just a victim of this drawn-out drama between the United States and Iran - I mean, this is the dilemma of Iranian-Americans, many of them who have nostalgia for their ancestral land, and they have gone to Iran, and they have been picked up by the security services," said Fouad Ajami. "Their trials have always been show-trials and their ordeal has always been just simply a play thing of the Iranian regime. The Iranians will do what they will; if they set her free, it is in the interests of the Iranians to set her free. If they keep her in jail it is because they want to torment the Americans, yet another day."

Ajami says he believes the recent overture by President Barack Obama to resume a dialogue with Iran, after 30 years, will not succeed.

"I think that the Obama Administration is going to learn that its approach to Iran is going to come to naught," he said. "In truth, the Iranians have precisely the relationship with the United States that they want: just enough enmity to serve as a glue for the regime and not enough enmity to be a threat to the regime"

Ajami says Irans' policy is decided by one man.

"Iran's choice lies in the hands of the Supreme Guide, Ayatollah Khamenei, and he shows no interest in accommodation with the United States," said Ajami. "It takes two, if you will, to make this accommodation, and the Iranians have absolutely no interest. They will taunt the Obama Administration; they will keep them waiting, and I do not expect any great break-through in the relationship between the US and Iran."

Iran's theocrats, he says, are content with the prevailing "atmosphere of antagonism with the United States and he says they are content with their ongoing drive to pursue a "nuclear option."

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