Thursday, March 05, 2009


Call for release of the US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi

4 March 2009

Reporters Without Borders is very worried about the detention of Roxana Saberi, a journalist with American and Iranian dual citizenship. The date of her arrest and exactly where she is being held are not yet known.

“Saberi’s arrest is a violation of both Iranian law and international legal standards,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Her lawyers must be told the reasons for her detention and must be allowed to visit her. We urge the Iranian authorities to say what charges have been brought against her and to release her pending an investigation, as laid down in the law.”

Saberi’s arrest was revealed by National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States on 1 March as a result of a call it received from her father on 10 February. The day after the NPR report, the Iranian authorities confirmed she was being held in Tehran’s Evin prison but did not say what she was charged with, although foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said she had been working “illegally” in Iran.

Judicial authority spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said at a press conference yesterday that she had been “arrested on the order of the Tehran revolutionary court and is now in detention in Evin prison,” adding that he did not know in which section of the prison she was located.
Born and brought up in the United States, Saberi has lived for the past six years in Iran, where worked as a stringer for NPR from 2002 to 2006. She also worked for the BBC and Fox News.
Her father, Reza Saberi, told Reporters Without Borders that she has not worked for the media since 2006. She did not have access to news and information as she did not have press accreditation. “Her writings were just personal notes and comments about cultural and literary subjects with a view to writing a book about Iran,” he said, adding that “she had been concentrating since 2006 on studying Farsi and Iranian culture at a Tehran university.”

It is very common in Iran for journalists and bloggers to be arrested arbitrarily and held in unknown locations. Blogger Hossein Derakhshan, for example, has been held in an unknown location since 1 November. His arrest was confirmed by Jamshidi, the judicial authority spokesman on 30 December, after it had already been reported in the media. At his press conference yesterday, Jamshidi said he had “no precise information on the subject of Hossein Derakhshan.”

Several Iranian journalists working for international news media have been interrogated by intelligence ministry agents since December and held in unknown locations. They have been accused of spying and working illegally despite having accreditation. Several of them reported being physically mistreated during interrogation. They and their families are constantly harassed.

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