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Clinton wants Iran to quickly free US reporter

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Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton
AFP, Washington, 20 April 2009 - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Monday urged Iran to swiftly free US reporter Roxana Saberi, hoping President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call for her fair treatment would lead to action. "We hope that the actions will be taken as soon as possible by the authorities in Iran, including the judiciary, to bring about the speedy release of Ms. Saberi and her return home," Clinton told reporters. In an unprecedented move Sunday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for "justice" for Saberi and said she should be given the right to defend herself. She was arrested as the new US administration is seeking to renew ties with Tehran. "We are obviously closely monitoring the situation ... and hoping that these remarks lead to actions," Clinton said as she met Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen. "The charges against her are baseless," Clinton added, calling Saberi’s trial "non-transparent, unpredictable and arbitrary." The US-Iranian dual national was convicted last week of espionage and sentenced to eight years in prison. She has been held since late January, when she was initially reported to have been arrested for buying alcohol, an illegal act in the Islamic republic. Saberi has reported for US National Public Radio, the BBC and Fox News, and has been living in Iran for the past six years. Her conviction came after US President Barack Obama made a video appeal to Iranians on their New Year last month, voicing hopes of turning a new page with Iran, which transformed from US ally to arch-foe after its 1979 Islamic revolution. The United States says it has not yet received a formal reply from Iran, which is under fire internationally for a nuclear program widely seen as an attempt to build an atom bomb. The Dutch foreign minister appealed to Iran to respond to the Obama administration’s overtures. "We hope the Iranian authorities realize the significance of this gesture," Verhagen said. "Iran has much to gain, but time is essential. No reaction to the outstretched hand would be an answer in itself," he said.

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