If you’ve been following the news, you probably know by now that American journalist Roxana Saberi has been convicted of spying in Iran and sentenced to eight years in prison. Saberi’s attorney told the Associated Press there will be an appeal.
Saberi, 31, who has dual citizenship in the United States and Iran and has freelanced for NPR, FOX, and the BBC, was first arrested in January (after being detained for buying a bottle of wine), and accused of working without press credentials. The charges were upped to espionage in April. This is the first time an American journalist has been convicted of spying in Iran, but it’s not the first time one has detained under strange circumstances. And a Canadian photojournalist died in 2003 after being incarcerated in the same prison where Saberi is being held.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told ABC News he would not influence the outcome of the case: ‘I am not a judge, and I do not pass judgment over judicial cases. In Iran, the judiciary is independent. I have stressed like others she should be accorded her full rights.’
Here in the U.S., there has been an outpouring of support for Saberi, and President Obama is pulling for her, saying he is ‘gravely concerned’ about Saberi’s safety and adamantly insisting she’s innocent. A group of Medill students have created a Free Roxana Saberi Web site.
The New York Times also recently ran an editorial in Saberi’s defense, saying ‘There is nothing resembling justice in Iran’s prosecution of Roxana Saberi… Iran’s government needs to release Ms. Saberi and end this dangerous farce.’
I second that. –Jax
Photo credit: Eustacio Humphrey / ZUMA Press