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Parents of imprisoned journalist plan Iran trip, Roxana Saberi may be held for longer period

Parents of imprisoned journalist plan Iran trip, Saberi may be for longer period
Reza Saberi, father of imprisoned US-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi.

The father of imprisoned journalist Roxana Saberi says he and his wife are making plans to go to Iran to see her in a couple of days. "I'm hoping if she sees us, it will lift her spirits," Reza Saberi said told the Associated Press on Wednesday.

The AP report said: [Link]

The Iranian government has said Roxana Saberi was imprisoned for doing reporting work in the country after her press credentials expired. Her parents found out about her arrest in a brief phone call from her Feb. 10.

Saberi, who grew up in Fargo, is a dual citizen of the US and Iran who has reported for a number of international news organizations.

Her father said he worries his daughter may go on a hunger strike. He said she told him a prosecutor in Iran had told her she would remain in detention for months or even years. "I think if they tell her she will be there for months, she will try to kill herself," Reza Saberi said.

"We are very deeply concerned by the circumstances of Saberi's detention," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "She continues to be held without charge, while officials have offered shifting reasons for her detention."

Saberi was detained in January. Since then, Iranian officials have issued conflicting explanations for the detention. Initially, Saberi told her family that she was apparently being held for buying wine. A few days later, a spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry stated that Saberi was detained for reporting without proper accreditation.

The next day, a spokesman for the Iranian judiciary confirmed that she was being held in Tehran's notorious Evin Prison, where political prisoners are frequently jailed. He added that she was being held in accordance with a writ issued by the Revolutionary Court, but he would not reveal the reasons for the detention.

"We are particularly concerned about Saberi's welfare, especially in light of where she is being held," CPJ's Abdel Dayem said.

At least two journalists have died at Evin Prison in the last six years in situations that have not been fully explained, CPJ research shows. Omidreza Mir Sayafi, an Iranian blogger serving ‎a 30-month sentence on a charge of insulting religious figures, died at Evin Prison last week under mysterious circumstances. In 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.

More than 10,000 people worldwide signed a CPJ petition expressing deep concern about Saberi's detention. CPJ presented the petition to the Islamic Republic of Iran's Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.

Saberi, 31, has worked for National Public Radio, the BBC, ABC News, and other international media outlets. Those outlets and other major news organizations have issued a joint statement calling on authorities to file specific charges or release Saberi immediately.

Date posted: March 26, 2009 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 624