Wednesday, May 6, 2009

No reason to expect anything better from Iran courts

Hopefully, the Iranian appellate court's decision to review the draconian eight-year sentence meted out last month to an American freelance journalist who had reported from Tehran for years will result in the dismissal of spying charges against her. But it seems a little too much to hope for after the government charged her with espionage after her arrest for allegedly buying alcohol, which is banned in the Islamic republic. Roxana Saberi recently ended a hunger strike she started to protest the charges after she suffered a fainting spell, according to the New York Times. Saberi, a resident of North Dakota, had continued to report for the BBC and National Public Radio despite having her press credentials revoked in 2006. The case has caused an international furor with U.S. President Barak Obama calling the charges a fabrication and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad urging the court to be fair. But the case also presents an opportunity for Iran to decide if it wants to continue to be an outlaw nation or begin to conform to international standards of conduct -- assuming, of course, that authorities ever had any legitimate case against her for anything. It is Iran, after all, and judging from the rhetoric of Ahmedinejad, honesty and integrity seem to be the biggest suspects of all.

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