News Cycle

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Iran Sentences Roxana Saberi to Eight Years in Prison

with 7 comments

Roxana Saberi

Roxana Saberi

An Iranian revolutionary court has convicted American journalist Roxana Saberi of spying and sentenced her to eight years in prison after a closed one-day trial.

Her father, Reza Saberi, told NPR’s Scott Simon from Tehran that he was not allowed into the courtroom to hear the verdict. Saberi’s lawyer was not allowed to ask the court about bail. She has been jailed at Evin Prison in Iran since Jan. 31.

NPR reports that Reza says Roxana wants to go on a hunger strike “to draw the attention of the Iranian authorities who have sentenced her without justifiable cause.” He notes, however, that she is weak and “if she does [go on a hunger strike], it can be very dangerous to her health.”

Agence France-Presse is quoting Reza as saying her daughter was tricked into confessing. “Roxana said in court that her earlier confessions were not true and she told me she had been tricked into believing that she would be released if she co-operated. Her denial is documented in her case, but apparently they did not pay attention to it,” he said. “We are very shocked and we were not expecting it.

“We were hoping for six months and then clemency.”

The deputy director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Robert Mahoney, says her sentence is too harsh.

“We believe that Roxana Saberi’s trial was not transparent,” he said. “And it does not seem that she has been treated fairly. We would call on the Iranian authorities to release her on bail pending appeal because we believe she should not be confined in Evin prison.”

NPR’s CEO Vivian Schiller has appealed to the Iranian government to show compassion and allow Saberi to return immediately to the United States.

Saberi, 31, an Iranian-American freelancer from Fargo, N.D., was first detained in January, although no formal charges were disclosed. She told her family that she was initially held for buying a bottle of wine. A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry said later that Saberi, left, was being detained at Tehran’s Evin Prison for reporting ‎without proper accreditation.

CPJ reports that political prisoners are often jailed at Evin Prison.

At least two journalists have died ‎there in the last six years amid circumstances that have not been fully explained, ‎CPJ research shows.‎ Omidreza Mirsayafi, a blogger serving ‎a 30-month sentence on a charge of insulting ‎religious figures, died at the prison in March under mysterious circumstances.‎ In July 2003, Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died from a brain hemorrhage that resulted from a beating at Evin Prison. An intelligence agent charged in the killing was acquitted after a flawed trial. Kazemi had been jailed because she took photographs outside the prison.


Written by newscycle

April 18, 2009 at 10:14 am

Posted in NPR

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7 Responses

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  1. The great and powerful country of Iran is afraid of a woman journalist. I would like to know why these poor excuses of skin posing as muslims are so afraid of women? If the US wanted to have spies, it would not be a journalist. They would not get caught like that. It comes down to extreme cowardice on those courts and the religious towel heads. It reflects bad on Islam. Be assured, there are spies over there and they are not women. They would not be able to move about freely and …spy.


    April 18, 2009 at 12:02 pm

  2. Hmm…secret trials against enemies of the state, whose evidence will not be revealed to the public. Such evidence was obtained through coercion. I guess Iran has their own Guantanamo Bay.

    Can we truly condemn Iranian behavior, if they are doing something so similar to what we do ourselves?


    April 18, 2009 at 12:11 pm

  3. No one in the US can complain or comment about the way Iran is treating any American prisoner, at least she was charged and got a trial, was not tortured like the detainees held by the US where. She has been treated more fairly than the US treats detainees at Guantanimo, I don’t see the problem.


    April 18, 2009 at 12:20 pm

  4. Every nation in the world has the desire to be respected and accepted in the world community and by this I don’t mean by the leaders of countries but by it’s citizens. The imprisonment of this journalist illustrates the whimsical nature of the Iranian regime. While it’s nemesis the US has changed the Iranians haven’t. Iran is not a great nation, it is a small minded repressive backward country again playing politics, intentionally thwarting the overtures of the world community for the narrow interests of it’s backward religious establishment and those who back them or I could be wrong.


    April 18, 2009 at 12:54 pm

  5. While I’m not nor even been a fan of dictatorship governments that represses its citizens, Roxana chose to go to Iran knowing full well the danger of a lunatic government & crazy religious laws! She claims she wanted to get to know her heritage, perhaps a book or 2 would have been a wiser choice or interview people that escaped that insanity to live a free life elsewhere.
    I pray for her safety-Iran has a barbaric regime w/apes running wild in its government. Her family must be devastated.


    April 18, 2009 at 1:41 pm

  6. It was height of stupidity and an instance of almost criminal negligence to have deputed an Iranian-American, man or woman, to Iran for news gathering in the present dismal state of US-Iran relations. The concerned morons who sent Roxana on her fateful mission appear to have not learned the apt lesson from a more tragic fate which befell, several years ago, an Iraqi-British journalist from the Observer newspaper (if my memory serves me right)who was condemned as a spy by Saddam Hussein and summarily hanged. Roxana must, indeed, consider herself lucky!


    April 19, 2009 at 10:01 am

  7. In my earlier comment, I had alluded to the tragic case of an Iraqi-British journalist who was convicted for spying and executed, by hanging, in Iraq by the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein.

    In fact, the journalist was an Iranian domiciled in Britain. Here is a brief, correct account of the story.

    Farzad Bazoft, a journalist of Iranian origin settled in London was arrested, while on an assignment in Iraq from the Observer newspaper (of Britain) for allegedly gathering covert information on the so-called “Project Babylon” for the super-gun project, run by the Canadian ballistics expert, Dr Gerald Bull. Bazoft was alleged to have also confessed to being a spy for the Israeli intelligence, Mossad. Saddam Hussein got Bazoft summarily executed, by hanging, in March, 1990 in the notorious Abu Greib prison. Bazoft’s companion, Daphne Parish, a British nurse was also convicted as an accomplice and sentenced to 15 years in prison. However, she was subsequently freed by Saddam Hussein in response to a plea made on her behalf by the President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda. Incidentally, Dr Gerald Bull was also assassinated by unknown assailants in March 1990 outside his apartment in Brussels, Belgium

    Hence, as I had already opined, against this background, it is the height of stupidity or even a clear case of criminal negligence to depute an Iranian-American, man or woman, on any journalistic jaunt or even for mere news-gathering to a country like Iran being ruled by a bunch of paranoid politicians and religious fanatics, especially in the present state of adverse US-Iranian relations. The morons who sent Roxana to Iran on her fateful mission, whatever might have been its real purpose, are equally culpable and responsible for what has happened to her.

    Roxana must consider herself to be very lucky, indeed, for being a woman!


    April 20, 2009 at 3:12 am

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