Relaymedia

Freedom Watchdog: Jailed U.S. Journalist Hospitalized in Iran

( [email protected] ) May 06, 2009 01:46 PM EDT

U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi was admitted to a prison hospital in Iran last week after switching from a sugar water-only fast to a complete fast in protest of her conviction last month.

“She is very weak, but she is still determined to go all the way,” her father, Reza Saberi, told Reporters Without Borders on Sunday, two days after her hospitalization.

Saberi had stopped taking liquids altogether after Iranian officials insisted that she was not on a hunger strike and that she was in “good condition.”

"The hunger strike issue was raised by people who seek to exploit this issue for propaganda purposes," claimed Judge Hasan Haddad, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.

Saberi’s father, however, says his U.S.-born and raised daughter began the hunger strike on April 21, three days after she was convicted of spying for the United States. He said Saberi told him in a very brief conversation over the phone that she planned to keep up the hunger strike until she is free from prison.

"I'm very worried," said the elder Saberi, whose birth in Iran gave his daughter dual U.S.-Iranian citizenship.

Though Reporters Without Borders reported Monday that Saberi has been released from the hospital after she took in liquids, the 31-year-old journalist is still believed to be on her hunger strike.

Born and raised in Fargo, N.D., Saberi had moved to Iran about six years ago to learn more about her cultural heritage while working as a freelance journalist for news organizations including the National Public Radio (NPR), BBC, ABC and Fox.

After her arrest on Jan. 31 for purchasing alcohol, which is illegal in Iran, Saberi was charged on April 9 and convicted on April 18 for espionage – a much more serious charge that U.S. officials have insisted is “baseless.”

Saberi is currently imprisoned in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, awaiting a ruling on the appeal her lawyer filed on April 25.

Saberi’s lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, said it could take up to three weeks before the ruling is made.