The move could be a bid by hard-liners to derail talks with the US.
As an American journalist is put on trial for espionage in Iran, some in the West say Iran’s hard-liners are using her case to gain an advantage in upcoming presidential elections by derailing warming relations with the US.
Iran’s official press agency announced today that the trial of journalist Roxana Saberi, who has dual American-Iranian citizenship, began Monday, and a verdict will be issued in the next two to three weeks. US officials have called the accusations against her “baseless.”
Iranian officials first charged Ms. Saberi, who has lived in Iran for six years, with continuing to work after her press credentials were revoked. Last week, the much more serious charge of espionage was added.
But the timing of Saberi’s case points to a connection to the June presidential elections and the thaw in US-Iran relations, says Ramin Jahanbegloo, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto who was arrested and detained in Iran in 2006.
“If they wanted to arrest Saberi, they could have done it a year ago,” says Professor Jahanbegloo. “Why do it now? It benefits the ultra-conservatives and those who are against any form of dialogue… They want to close the potential avenue for dialogue.”