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US journalist says she made false spying confession

world Updated: May 29, 2009 01:23 IST

U S journalist Roxana Saberi, who spent four months in an Iranian prison on espionage charges, said in her first in-depth interview that she initially confessed to being a spy but later recanted.

In remarks to National Public Radio News, Saberi, 32, said her confession was forced and that she believes her decision to recant prompted the Iranian prosecutor to send her case to trail instead of allowing to her go free.

"My confession was false and I thought I had to fabricate it to save myself," she said.

The Iranian government arrested her in Tehran on Jan 31 and charged her with spying for the United States. In mid-April, Iran's Revolutionary Court sentenced Saberi to eight years in prison, but an appeals court reduced that to a two-year suspended sentence on May 11.

She left Iran four days later.

Yesterday she met at the State Department with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had said repeatedly during Saberi's confinement that the spying charges against her were baseless.

In her interview recorded yesterday with NPR, the transcript of which was released Thursday, Saberi said she was not physically harmed but faced intense psychological pressure that prompted her to admit to spying.

"As has been seen in the past, one of the ways that people get out of these kinds of situations is to make a confession, and even be videotaped making this confession, even if this confession is false," she said.