VIENNA – American journalist Roxana Saberi arrived in Austria, where she will spend "a few days" recuperating after four months in an Iranian prison.
Saberi, smiling and looking well, thanked the people around the world who had supported her during her time in prison. She said she and her parents planned to spend several days in the Austrian capital so she could begin to come to terms with her ordeal, and hoped to talk more about what happened.
"I need some more time to think about what happened to me over the past couple of days," the 32-year-old journalist said. "Nobody knows about it as well as I do and I will talk about it more in the future, I hope, but I am not prepared at this time."
Saberi, who grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, and moved to Iran six years ago, has dual citizenship. She was arrested in late January and convicted of spying for the United States in a closed-door trial that her Iranian-born father said lasted only 15 minutes.
She was freed on Monday and reunited with her parents, who had come to Iran to seek her release, after an appeals court reduced her sentence to two years suspended.
Her lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, has said she was convicted in part because she had a copy of a confidential Iranian report on the U.S. war in Iraq. He said she had copied the report "out of curiosity" while she worked as a freelance translator for a powerful body connected to Iran's ruling clerics. Prosecutors also cited a trip to Israel that Saberi made in 2006, he said Tuesday. Iran bars its citizens from visiting Israel, its top regional nemesis.
He said she told appeals court judges that she had copied the document two years ago but did not pass it on to the Americans as prosecutors claimed. He gave no details on what was in the document because it remains confidential.
The United States had said the charges against Saberi were baseless and repeatedly demanded her release. The case against her had become an obstacle to President Barack Obama's attempts at dialogue with Iran, the top U.S. adversary in the Middle East.
Saberi, who at one point went on a hunger strike, told reporters at the airport in Vienna that she was grateful for the support she had received.
"I heard that certain people, many people, went through a lot of troubles because of me," she said.
"Both journalists and non-journalists around the world, I've been hearing, supported me very much and it was very moving for me to hear this."
Saberi made special mention of Austria's ambassador to Iran Michael Postl, whom she described as "very helpful."
Austrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal said Postl knows the Saberi family and, due to his extensive contacts in Iran, was able to help secure her release.
"I want to thank him again, and his family, and all the other people and nations in the world who helped us during this time," she said.
Austria has had a decades-long dialogue with Iran on human rights and was also involved in the release of Iranian-American academic Haleh Esfandiari from prison in 2007.
Saberi did not specify how long she planned to stay in Austria, saying only: "We're going to stay here for at least a few days and then go on to the United States."
She said it was still unclear if she would also travel to France, where a film she co-scripted premiered at the Cannes Film festival on Thursday. The film's director is Saberi's partner.
Saberi ended her hunger strike in prison after two weeks when her parents, visiting her in prison, asked her to stop because her health was weakening.
Saberi had worked as a freelance journalist for several organizations, including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp.
After her arrest, Iranian authorities initially accused her of working without press credentials, but later leveled the far more serious charge of spying. Iran released few details about the allegations that she passed intelligence to the U.S.