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Small Step For Justice in Iran

By Boston Globe, The Boston Globe - May 12, 2009

AN INJUSTICE was corrected yesterday when Iran's politicized judiciary dropped an espionage charge against freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, reduced and suspended her sentence, and let her out of prison. There were hints that freeing Saberi, an Iranian-American, was Iran's positive response to recent overtures from President Obama. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly called Iran's gesture "heartening." But other victims of Iran's rigged legal system and paranoid security services still languish in prison.

The key to the message of Saberi's release was embedded in the ruling issued by the appeals court. A three-judge panel said the revolutionary court that convicted Saberi after a cursory closed hearing had charged her under the wrong section of Iran's criminal code. One of her lawyers explained that she had been convicted of "cooperating with a hostile state," but the appeals court overturned that verdict on the grounds that Iran and America cannot be described as states that are hostile to each other.

This dramatic message is intended for both Iranian and American audiences.

The appeals court verdict contradicts assumptions prevalent among hard-liners around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the Revolutionary Guards, the Intelligence Ministry, and the judiciary. The fact that Ahmadinejad himself recently called for a fair appeals court hearing for Saberi suggests he had already gotten the message.

A presidential election is scheduled for June 12 in Iran, and Ahmadinejad's conversion to the wisdom of giving Saberi a fair trial reflects the favorable response among Iranians to Obama's appeal for dialogue. Iranians - particularly those under 30, who now comprise 70 percent of the population - don't want a hostile relationship with America. The ruling of the appeals court suggests word has gone out from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that America should no longer be defined as an eternal Great Satan.

AN INJUSTICE was corrected yesterday when Iran's politicized judiciary dropped an espionage charge against freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, reduced and suspended her sentence, and let her out of prison. There were hints that freeing Saberi, an Iranian-American, was Iran's positive response to recent overtures from President Obama. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly called Iran's gesture "heartening." But other victims of Iran's rigged legal system and paranoid security services still languish in prison.

The key to the message of Saberi's release was embedded in the ruling issued by the appeals court. A three-judge panel said the revolutionary court that convicted Saberi after a cursory closed hearing had charged her under the wrong section of Iran's criminal code. One of her lawyers explained that she had been convicted of "cooperating with a hostile state," but the appeals court overturned that verdict on the grounds that Iran and America cannot be described as states that are hostile to each other.

This dramatic message is intended for both Iranian and American audiences.

The appeals court verdict contradicts assumptions prevalent among hard-liners around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the Revolutionary Guards, the Intelligence Ministry, and the judiciary. The fact that Ahmadinejad himself recently called for a fair appeals court hearing for Saberi suggests he had already gotten the message.

A presidential election is scheduled for June 12 in Iran, and Ahmadinejad's conversion to the wisdom of giving Saberi a fair trial reflects the favorable response among Iranians to Obama's appeal for dialogue. Iranians - particularly those under 30, who now comprise 70 percent of the population - don't want a hostile relationship with America. The ruling of the appeals court suggests word has gone out from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that America should no longer be defined as an eternal Great Satan.

AN INJUSTICE was corrected yesterday when Iran's politicized judiciary dropped an espionage charge against freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, reduced and suspended her sentence, and let her out of prison. There were hints that freeing Saberi, an Iranian-American, was Iran's positive response to recent overtures from President Obama. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly called Iran's gesture "heartening." But other victims of Iran's rigged legal system and paranoid security services still languish in prison.

The key to the message of Saberi's release was embedded in the ruling issued by the appeals court. A three-judge panel said the revolutionary court that convicted Saberi after a cursory closed hearing had charged her under the wrong section of Iran's criminal code. One of her lawyers explained that she had been convicted of "cooperating with a hostile state," but the appeals court overturned that verdict on the grounds that Iran and America cannot be described as states that are hostile to each other.

This dramatic message is intended for both Iranian and American audiences.

The appeals court verdict contradicts assumptions prevalent among hard-liners around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the Revolutionary Guards, the Intelligence Ministry, and the judiciary. The fact that Ahmadinejad himself recently called for a fair appeals court hearing for Saberi suggests he had already gotten the message.

A presidential election is scheduled for June 12 in Iran, and Ahmadinejad's conversion to the wisdom of giving Saberi a fair trial reflects the favorable response among Iranians to Obama's appeal for dialogue. Iranians - particularly those under 30, who now comprise 70 percent of the population - don't want a hostile relationship with America. The ruling of the appeals court suggests word has gone out from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that America should no longer be defined as an eternal Great Satan.

AN INJUSTICE was corrected yesterday when Iran's politicized judiciary dropped an espionage charge against freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, reduced and suspended her sentence, and let her out of prison. There were hints that freeing Saberi, an Iranian-American, was Iran's positive response to recent overtures from President Obama. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly called Iran's gesture "heartening." But other victims of Iran's rigged legal system and paranoid security services still languish in prison.

The key to the message of Saberi's release was embedded in the ruling issued by the appeals court. A three-judge panel said the revolutionary court that convicted Saberi after a cursory closed hearing had charged her under the wrong section of Iran's criminal code. One of her lawyers explained that she had been convicted of "cooperating with a hostile state," but the appeals court overturned that verdict on the grounds that Iran and America cannot be described as states that are hostile to each other.

This dramatic message is intended for both Iranian and American audiences.

The appeals court verdict contradicts assumptions prevalent among hard-liners around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the Revolutionary Guards, the Intelligence Ministry, and the judiciary. The fact that Ahmadinejad himself recently called for a fair appeals court hearing for Saberi suggests he had already gotten the message.

A presidential election is scheduled for June 12 in Iran, and Ahmadinejad's conversion to the wisdom of giving Saberi a fair trial reflects the favorable response among Iranians to Obama's appeal for dialogue. Iranians - particularly those under 30, who now comprise 70 percent of the population - don't want a hostile relationship with America. The ruling of the appeals court suggests word has gone out from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that America should no longer be defined as an eternal Great Satan.

AN INJUSTICE was corrected yesterday when Iran's politicized judiciary dropped an espionage charge against freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, reduced and suspended her sentence, and let her out of prison. There were hints that freeing Saberi, an Iranian-American, was Iran's positive response to recent overtures from President Obama. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly called Iran's gesture "heartening." But other victims of Iran's rigged legal system and paranoid security services still languish in prison.

The key to the message of Saberi's release was embedded in the ruling issued by the appeals court. A three-judge panel said the revolutionary court that convicted Saberi after a cursory closed hearing had charged her under the wrong section of Iran's criminal code. One of her lawyers explained that she had been convicted of "cooperating with a hostile state," but the appeals court overturned that verdict on the grounds that Iran and America cannot be described as states that are hostile to each other.

This dramatic message is intended for both Iranian and American audiences.

The appeals court verdict contradicts assumptions prevalent among hard-liners around President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in the Revolutionary Guards, the Intelligence Ministry, and the judiciary. The fact that Ahmadinejad himself recently called for a fair appeals court hearing for Saberi suggests he had already gotten the message.

A presidential election is scheduled for June 12 in Iran, and Ahmadinejad's conversion to the wisdom of giving Saberi a fair trial reflects the favorable response among Iranians to Obama's appeal for dialogue. Iranians - particularly those under 30, who now comprise 70 percent of the population - don't want a hostile relationship with America. The ruling of the appeals court suggests word has gone out from Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that America should no longer be defined as an eternal Great Satan.

AN INJUSTICE was corrected yesterday when Iran's politicized judiciary dropped an espionage charge against freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, reduced and suspended her sentence, and let her out of prison. There were hints that freeing Saberi, an Iranian-American, was Iran's positive response to recent overtures from President Obama. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly called Iran's gesture "heartening." But other victims of Iran's rigged legal system and paranoid security services still languish in prison.

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