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Saberi To Be Released From Iranian Prison

Related Content: Freelance Journos Under Siege

Jailed American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi was to be released from Iran's Evin Prison on May 11. The Iranian appeals court, which heard her case on Sunday, reduced her eight-year prison sentence to a two-year suspended sentence.

Roxana Saberi's father, Reza Saberi, told The Associated Press that they would return to their home in North Dakota.

Saberi was a freelance journalist who had reported for NPR, the BBC and Fox News, among other news organizations. Her press credentials were revoked in 2006. She was arrested in January, ostensibly for buying alcohol.

More Western news organizations are relying on freelance journalists like Saberi to cover foreign countries where economic realities have forced the closure of fully staffed bureaus. Saberi's plight, and that of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, who are still being held in North Korea, underscores the vulnerability of these journalists, who work without the political resources and public clout of large, internationally recognized news organizations.

Ling and Lee were working on a piece for Current TV about North Korean refugees fleeing to China. They were picked up by a military patrol when they allegedly crossed the border from China into North Korea. According to the official Korean Central News Agency, the investigation has concluded and Ling and Lee will be tried, though a trial date is unknown.

Saberi's case drew national attention with statements of support from President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Obama has initiated a rapprochement with Iran, and Saberi's case was seen as complicating those efforts. Ahmadinejad, who faces re-election in June, has also urged the court to tread carefully in the case of jailed Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan (who, like Saberi, is a dual national). There is no word from Iran about Derakhshan.