Washington briefing: U.S., family continue to call for Iranian-Armenian’s release

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Saturday May 16, 2009

Roxana Saberi.

Washington - With Roxana Saberi, an Iranian­-American journalist released this week, the family of Iranian-­Armenian aid worker Silva ­Harotonian urged Iranian authorities to offer her clemency as well.

In a May 13 statement distributed by Fox News, Klara Moradkhan, Ms. Harotonian's American cousin, suggested that "the very basis on which Ms. Saberi was freed - Iran's recognition that it and the United States are not in a state of hostility toward one another - would support Silva's release as well under Iranian law."

Ms. Harotonian was arrested in June 2008 and was last January sentenced to a three-year prison term. The Iranian legal system is currently considering her second and final appeal. Ms. Harotonian was an administrator for a U.S.-funded maternal and children's health program, but was charged with trying to undermine the Iranian government; she was reportedly pressured to testify against herself.

U.S. officials have called charges against both Ms. Harotonian and Ms. Saberi "baseless" and have called on Iran to release them.

According to media reports this week, the case against Ms. Saberi was based mostly on a confidential document she reportedly copied while working for an Iranian government entity several years earlier. Ms. Saberi was initially sentenced to eight years in prison before being released on parole.

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