US journalist could apply for amnesty, says Iran's attorney general

US journalist could apply for amnesty, says Iran's attorney generalTehran - Iran's attorney general suggested Wednesday that Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi could apply for amnesty, ISNA news agency reported.

Ghorban-Ali Dorri-Najafabadi said that Saberi could apply for amnesty from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

According to the Iranian constitution, Khamenei has the final say on all state affairs and is even authorized to declare amnesty for prisoners not convicted of heavy crimes.

The 31-year-old Saberi, who worked for US National Public Radio, was sentenced to eight years in prison last week on charges of spying for the US government.

Saberi's lawyer, Abdolsamad Khoramshahi, has already submitted the appeal bill and is expected to be assisted by Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and two more attorneys who have, however, not yet been allowed to visit her in jail to get the signature for the mandate.

Saberi has been in Tehran's Evin prison since January, first on charges of buying alcohol, later on working without a valid press card but the judiciary later charged her with espionage.

Both Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi-Shahroudi, have indicated their opposition to the rather harsh sentence and called for a fair appeal court, reportedly to be presided over by three judges.

Ahmadinejad's surprising interference in the Saberi case was seen by some as an effort by the government to persuade the judiciary to revise the harsh sentence and avoid another international political crisis.

On Tuesday, the Iranian judiciary denied that Saberi was on a hunger strike in prison, contradicting remarks from her father, Reza.

The US government has repeatedly called for Saberi's release from prison and from the charges. (dpa)