Iran’s political prisoner

American journalist Roxana Saberi was freed from an Iranian prison Monday after being held almost four months as an alleged U.S. spy.

Saberi was the victim of politics, Iranian style. But she also appears to have been the beneficiary of a political decision by Iran’s leaders. They want a thaw in the tense relationship that has existed for decades between the United States and Iran.

And when the person who offers the best chance for that to occur — President Barack Obama — criticized them for the imprisonment and secret trial of Saberi, they apparently decided it was time to free her. A display of “Islamic mercy” is what one Iranian judiciary spokesman called it.

Not that they are rescinding Saberi’s conviction. She’s still a spy, as far as Iran’s rulers are concerned. That was proved in the one-day, secret trial, don’t you know.

But her eight-year prison term was reduced to a suspended sentence Monday, in part because she allegedly expressed regret for her actions.

Whatever the reason, we’re pleased to see the journalist freed, and equally happy that Iran’s leaders responded to the global criticism of their actions, including the rebuke from President Obama.

But the president shouldn’t take Saberi’s release as a sign of real reform in Iran. The mullahs who run that country still trample on the rights of their own citizens. They continue their headlong rush to acquire nuclear weapons while spouting rhetoric about the ultimate destruction of Israel. And they support and encourage terrorists from Iraq to Gaza.

Those are a few of the issues President Obama needs to discuss with Iran’s leaders if he really does want to improve relations with that country.


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