News 24 reports:
“Her denial is documented in her case, but apparently they did not pay attention to it,” Reza Saberi said. “We are very shocked and we were not expecting it.
“We were hoping for six months and then clemency.”
Several other US-Iranians have been detained for security charges in recent years but have always been released after months in jail. Iran rarely arrests foreign journalists, but foreign nationals with Iranian parents who work as journalists are subject to extra scrutiny and are sometimes harassed.
Saberi, who is of Iranian and Japanese descent, was born in the United States. She had been living in Iran for six years working for the US-based National Public Radio (NPR). In 2006 Iran revoked her press card and since that time all of work has been deemed “illegal.”
The New York Times reports:
In a statement released Saturday, Vivian Schiller, the president and CEO of NPR, said “We are deeply distressed by this harsh and unwarranted sentence.”
She also said that “ we know her as an established and respected professional journalist.”
Saberi was arrested on a much lighter charge of buying alcohol. She was later accused of working as a reporter without press credentials. The final charge that came from the prosecutor’s office who said this month she would be put on trial for spying. The trial took place on Monday behind closed doors.
This is the harshest sentence given by the Iranian court to a dual-national to date.