NBC News and news services
updated 5/22/2009 5:41:53 PM ET 2009-05-22T21:41:53

An American journalist who spent four months in an Iranian prison returned to the U.S. on Friday, saying she was "glad to be back home in the land of the free."

Roxanna Saberi arrived at Dulles International Airport from Vienna, accompanied by her parents. She thanked those who worked to help secure her release.

"One thing that kept me going in prison was singing the national anthem to myself. It may sound corny but I'm so glad to be back home in the land of the free," she said.

The 32-year-old journalist had spent a week in Vienna recuperating after being released from prison in Iran.

Saberi, who grew up in Fargo, N.D., 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.

Sentence reduced
She was freed May 11 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.

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 the top U.S. adversary in the Middle East.

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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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