15 May 2009

Freed journalist leaves Iran

10:24 pm on 15 May 2009

Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi has left Iran following her release from jail earlier this week.

She arrived in Austria from Tehran with her parents. She said she would stay there a few days before flying home to Fargo in North Dakota.

Ms Saberi, 32, was freed on Monday after spending four months in prison on spying charges, which she denies.

She was originally sentenced to eight years, but the term was cut on appeal to a two-year suspended sentence.

Her case had attracted international attention. The United States administration said Iran's decision to free her was a "humanitarian gesture".

Ms Saberi spoke briefly on her arrival in Vienna, where she said she would spend a few days before heading to the US. She did offer thanks to those around the world who lent their backing to an international clamour to see her freed.

Ms Saberi was originally arrested and accused of buying alcohol, and later of working as a reporter without a valid press card.

The spying charge was introduced later, and she was tried and sentenced behind closed doors.

Following her release, one of her lawyers said she was convicted of spying for the US partly because she had obtained a classified document.

The lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, said she had access to a confidential Iranian report on the US war in Iraq - but had not used it.