An American journalist jailed for more than two months in Iran has been charged with spying for the US, a judge said Wednesday, dashing hopes of a quick release days after her parents arrived in the country seeking her freedom.
The espionage charge is far more serious than earlier statements by Iranian officials that the woman had been arrested for working in the Islamic Republic without press credentials and her own assertion in a phone call to her father that she was arrested after buying a bottle of wine.
Roxana Saberi, who grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, and is a dual citizen of the US and Iran, has been living in Iran for six years. She has reported from there for several news organizations, including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp.
An investigative judge involved in the case told state TV that Saberi was passing classified information to US intelligence services.
"Under the cover of a journalist, she visited government buildings, established contacts with some of the employees, gathered classified information and sent it to the US intelligence services," said the judge, who under security rules was identified only by his surname, Heidarifard.