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A jailed American journalist charged by Iran with espionage stood trial behind closed doors and a verdict is expected within weeks, Iran's judiciary spokesman said Tuesday.
Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen, was arrested in late January and initially accused of working without press credentials. But an Iranian judge leveled a far more serious allegation against her last week, charging her with spying for the United States.
The U.S. government has been pressing for Saberi's release and the charges against her and news of her swift trial was a setback — especially at a time when President Barack Obama has expressed a willingness to talk with Iran after many years of rocky relations under the former Bush administration.
Judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said Saberi was tried Monday in Iran's Revolutionary Court, which handles national security cases. It was unclear why the trial was moving at such a fast pace — especially because the charges leveled against her were so serious.
"Yesterday, the first trial session was held. She presented her final defense. The court will issue its verdict within the next two to three weeks," Jamshidi told reporters.
Her parents, who traveled to Iran in a bid to help win their daughter's release, and her lawyer could not immediately be reached Tuesday for comment.
Saberi, who grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, has been living in Iran for the last six years, working as a freelance reporter for organizations including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp.