Roxana Saberi's conviction has complicated the Obama administration's efforts to break a 30-year diplomatic deadlock between the two countries, and some analysts believe hard-liners opposed to improved U.S.-Iran relations are driving the dispute.
The planned investigation and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's insistence Saberi be allowed to make a full defense during her appeal indicate an attempt by some senior officials to prevent the case from derailing a move toward dialogue with the U.S.
President Barack Obama said Sunday he was "gravely concerned" about the safety and well-being of Saberi and was confident she wasn't involved in espionage, a day after Iran announced her conviction.
His words prompted criticism from Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman yesterday, who said Obama should not comment on Saberi's case before learning the details. "I advise those who studied law not to comment on a case without seeing its context," Hasan Qashqavi said yesterday.
Ahmadinejad sent a letter to Tehran's chief prosecutor Sunday urging him to ensure Saberi be allowed to offer a full defense during her appeal. Iran's judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi yesterday ordered a full investigation into Saberi's case. He said the probe should be "precise, quick and fair." The decision to order an investigation is unusual, signaling a possible struggle between officials who want to defuse tension over Saberi's case and those looking to spark it.