- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 7, 2009

TEHRAN (Reuters) | Iran’s investigation of Iranian-American freelance journalist Roxana Saberi has been completed and she will be freed soon, an official from the prosecutor’s office said Friday.

Miss Saberi, 31, who was born in the United States and has reported for the British Broadcasting Corp., National Public Radio and other media, was detained in the Islamic state more than a month ago.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, during a news conference Thursday at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, demanded that Tehran immediately release the journalist.

She earlier said the United States planned to invite Tehran to a conference on Afghanistan, in a first overture to Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Friday that Tehran is weighing the U.S. invitation.

“I’m not saying that we will attend, but that we are considering whether to attend,” the Associated Press quoted Mr. Mottaki as telling Serbian state TV during a visit to Belgrade. He said Iran would announce its decision during a visit by Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini to Tehran this month.

The United States is reviewing its policy of isolation of the Islamic republic, including whether to open up a low-level diplomatic office there.

Iran’s judiciary said this week that Miss Saberi was being held in Tehran’s Evin prison on the orders of a revolutionary court, which under Iran’s legal system deals with state security and other issues.

“Investigations with her have taken place and she will be released in the next few days,” an official from Tehran’s public prosecutor’s office was quoted as telling Iranian Student News Agency. Judicial officials were not immediately available to comment.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman had said Miss Saberi was working illegally after her press card was withdrawn two years ago.

Miss Saberi’s father, Reza, said from Fargo, N.D., on Sunday that she had been held in Iran since Jan. 31, ostensibly for buying a bottle of wine. Buying alcohol is banned under Iran’s Islamic law.

He confirmed her credentials as a correspondent had been revoked but said she had stayed in Tehran to pursue a master’s degree and was doing research for a book about Iranian society.

Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey said she could not confirm news reports of Miss Saberi’s impending release, and that Swiss diplomats would continue to work on her case.

“We will continue to take the steps that are necessary,” she told journalists in Geneva after a meeting with Mrs. Clinton.

Neutral Switzerland has represented U.S. interests in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, as the two countries do not have direct diplomatic relations.

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