Father Says US Journalist Saberi is Weak From Hunger Strike in Iran
By Edward Yeranian, VOA,
American journalist Roxana Saberi, convicted by
Iran of spying, is on a hunger strike and vows to continue until she is released
from prison. Her father, who visited her in Tehran's Evin Prison says she is
The health of U.S.-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi, condemned to eight years in
prison by Iran for allegedly spying for the United States, is deteriorating,
according to her father. He says she has been on a hunger strike since last
Reza Saberi, along with his wife Akiko, visited their daughter Sunday in
Tehran's Evin prison, for her 32nd birthday.
Saberi says his daughter is so weak from the hunger strike she began last
Tuesday that she can "hardly stand up."
He told Reuters news agency he is worried about her health. He said he was
unable to persuade his daughter to end her hunger strike and says she vowed to
continue until she is freed.
Jean-Francois Julliard, of Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, says both
journalists and the world community need to put pressure on Iran to release
"We should put more pressure on Iranian authorities, because she is really in
danger. She is in a very bad health and she cannot pursue her hunger strike for
many days," said Julliard. "So, we have to do something from Europe, from [the]
United States, from everywhere to ensure that she is released soon."
Saberi's lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, who has lodged an appeal with the
Iranian judiciary, has told journalists he believes her case will be heard
U.S. President Barack Obama and the State Department have called the charges
against Roxana Saberi, who has worked for National Public Radio and the BBC,
Iran initially claimed Saberi, who has dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship, was
arrested because her credentials as a journalist had expired, but later charged
her with "espionage", for which she was sentenced to eight years in prison in a
one-day closed trial.
Iranian media have barely mentioned the Saberi case, although her Iranian fiancÚ
has written an open letter pleading for her release.
Julliard says Iran does not have a "free press", so it is up to those on the
outside to plead her case:
"It is not easy, because most of the Iranian media are not independent, at all,
so it is sure that they did not speak about her case and when they speak about
her, it is just to say that she was sentenced because she is a spy for the
United States," said Julliard. "So, we have to provide them reliable information
and we have to convince them that she is not a spy, she is just a journalist."
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman insists that Saberi's case must be dealt with
according to the country's laws. "When she is an Iranian citizen," he told a
weekly press conference, "all arguments raised by foreigners have no meaning."
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