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Saberi ends hunger strike

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is extremely relieved to learn that Roxana Saberi, the Iranian-American journalist who is in a Tehran jail on a spying charge, has ended her hunger strike. The press freedom organisation continues to call for the appeal against her conviction to be given a fair hearing and not any sham proceedings.

When Saberi's parents visited her in Tehran's Evin prison on 4 May 2009, she agreed to begin eating again at her father's insistence and took two spoonfuls of yoghurt. On the evening of 5 May, she confirmed to her parents during a phone call that she had decided to end the hunger strike she began on 21 April. She also expressed her gratitude for the international campaign of solidarity that has been waged on her behalf.

In accordance with Iranian law, Saberi's lawyers filed a request on 5 May for her release on bail before the judge of the 28th chamber of the Tehran revolutionary court.

"The Iranian authorities should respect Roxana Saberi's rights by granting her lawyers' request and releasing her on bail pending the appeal hearing," Reporters Without Borders said.

Iranian judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi announced on 5 May that the appeal would be heard behind closed doors "in the course of next week," with representatives from the prosecutor's office, the intelligence ministry and the lawyers association in attendance.

"This is a travesty of justice," Reporters Without Borders said. "Leading independent figures should be present at this appeal hearing. We call for Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi of the Human Rights Defenders Centre to be allowed to attend."

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