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World

EU calls on Iran to free jailed US reporter

The EU is calling on Iran to release US reporter Roxana Saberi. The 31-year old has been sentenced to eight years in prison for spying, but her trial was anything but fair.

Roxana Saberi in a headscarf

The Saberi case has sparked outrage around the world

In a declaration issued on Monday, the European Union presidency urged Tehran to release US journalist Roxana Taberi, saying the judicial process that led to her eight-year prison sentence did not meet the standards of a fair and transparent trial.

Earlier on Monday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also called for the immediate release of Saberi describing the spying charges against the journalist as baseless.

Last week the 31-year-old journalist, who has Iranian and US citizenship, was convicted by an Iranian revolutionary court of espionage - notably for the United States - following a one-day trial behind closed doors.

She has been held by Iranian authorities since January, when she was initially reported to have been arrested for buying alcohol.

"She has been subjected to a process that has been nontransparent, unpredictable, arbitrary," Clinton said. "We hope that actions will be taken as soon as possible by the authorities in Iran, including the judiciary, to bring about the speedy release of Miss Saberi and her return home."

In a surprise move on Sunday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad intervened in the case, calling on Tehran's prosecutor general, Saeed Mortazavi, to personally follow it with precision and fairness. He also stressed Saberi's right for legal defense assistance.

Subsequently Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, the head of Iran's judiciary, ordered the director general of the Tehran court to give Saberi all legal rights in the appeals court.

Saberi has reported for US National Public Radio, the BBC and Fox News, and has been living in Iran for the past six years. She was born in the US and grew up in Fargo, North Dakota.

Her detention comes as the new US administration under President Barack Obama is seeking to renew ties with Tehran.