MONTREAL, April 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders "firmly
condemns" the eight-year prison sentence which a Tehran revolutionary court
passed today on Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi on a charge of
spying for the United States.
"This conviction was unjust under the Iranian criminal code and the
sentence was severe," Reporters Without Borders said. "Saberi's lawyer was not
with her when she appeared before the judges for the single hearing on 13
April. Coming as it does in the run-up to elections, this sentence is a
warning to all foreign journalists working in Iran."
The Saberi case is the latest example of how the Iranian authorities
arbitrarily use spying charges to arrest journalists and tighten the gag on
Aged 31, Saberi has been detained ever since her arrest in Tehran in late
January. The trial opened before a revolutionary court on 13 April and only
one hearing was held, lasting a day. Her lawyer, Abdolsamad Khoramshahi,
confirmed today to Reporters Without Borders that she has been convicted and
sentenced and said he was going to appeal.
Saberi's arrest was revealed by National Public Radio (NPR) in the
United States on 1 March following 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 north Tehran's Evin prison. On 2 March, foreign ministry
spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said she had been working "illegally" in Iran.
Judicial authority spokesman Alireza Jamshidi said on 3 March that she had
been "arrested on the order of the Tehran revolutionary court and is now in
detention in Evin prison."
Born and brought up in the United States, Saberi has an Iranian father
who became a US citizen. She moved to Iran six years ago, working as a
stringer for NPR from 2002 to 2006. She also worked for the BBC and Fox News.
The Iranian authorities do not recognise dual citizenship and regard her as an
Iranian like any other.
Her father, Reza Saberi, told Reporters Without Borders that she had
not worked for the media since 2006. She did not have access to news and
information as she did not have press accreditation, he said. "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
For further information:
For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)