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AFTRA Asks Obama To Use 'Full Force' To Free Saberi

Posted at 9:15 p.m. ET

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has written President Barack Obama to ask him to use "the full force" of his administration to pressure the Iranian government to free American journalist Roxana Saberi.

Saberi, a freelance journalist who has been living and working in Iran and reported for the BBC and NPR, among others, was sentenced to eight years in prison for espionage.

The White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said over the weekend that the president was "deeply disappointed" by the sentencing.

"Although not an AFTRA member, Ms. Saberi is an esteemed journalist who reported to the world the stories of people unable to make their own voices heard," wrote AFTRA President Roberta Reardon. She is a reporter who told the truth, and in doing so, angered the powerful elite."

"We must protect those who speak truth to power, not punish them. I and my fellow AFTRA members are concerned about Ms. Saberi's well-being, and we are deeply troubled by what appears to be a grave miscarriage of justice and a violation of her rights as an American citizen living and working abroad."