- posted on 04/16/2009
In 2003, an Iranian-born Canadian photojournalist named Zahra Kazemi was arrested in Tehran, jailed in its notorious Evin prison and charged with espionage. Less than three weeks later, Kazemi was dead. An Iranian doctor who examined her before her death later reported that she had been raped, sustained a skull fracture and had her fingernails ripped out.
Now another foreign journalist is imprisoned at Evin and also charged with espionage. In late January, Roxana Saberi, a U.S.-born reporter of Iranian descent who had been living in Iran for several years, was arrested for buying a bottle of wine. In early March, she was accused of "illegal activities," including working without press credentials. She was later indicted for espionage and on Monday her case went to trial, which lasted a day; a verdict is expected within weeks.
Ms. Saberi's credentials as a journalist can hardly be in doubt. Among other venues, she has reported for the BBC, National Public Radio, Fox News and the Associated Press. But honest journalism in any closed society is always likely to resemble "espionage," at least in the eyes of a suspicious dictatorship.
Thus, in addition to Ms. Saberi, Iran has in recent years also jailed or detained several other U.S. citizens, including Haleh Esfandiari, a scholar at the Washington, D.C.-based Wilson Center; Parnaz Azima, a correspondent for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Ali Shakeri, a businessman and Iranian democracy activist; and Kian Tajbakhsh, a scholar working for George Soros's Open Society Institute. All were eventually released, but a former FBI agent, Robert Levinson, went missing in Iran in March 2007. Florida Senator Bill Nelson believes he is being held in an Iranian prison.
Mr. Levinson aside, all of the detained were dual U.S.-Iranian citizens. Also notable is the regime's suspicion of people like Ms. Esfandiari and Mr. Tajbakhsh, both of whom are better known as advocates of engagement with the regime. The regime's mentality only becomes intelligible in the context of seeing these scholars as advocates of political reform, which it views as a soft form of revolution. Among the accusations Iran leveled against Ms. Esfandiari was that the Wilson Center had "played key roles in the intrigues that have led to colorful revolutions in former Soviet republics in recent years."
For now, the important thing is to assure Ms. Saberi's safety and to work for her release. But it is worth noting that her arrest came days after President Obama was inaugurated, that the espionage charges were brought about the same time U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke shook hands with Iran's deputy foreign minister in the Hague (an encounter the Iranian foreign ministry officially denies, by the way), and that her "trial" coincides with news that the Administration will drop the longstanding U.S. demand that Iran cease its uranium enrichment as a precondition to direct talks.
Advocates of engagement often make the case that talks are the best way to foster better relations with Iran, and a better Iran altogether. Ms. Saberi's prosecution is as good an indication as any of the real nature of the regime, and of how the mullahs intend to reciprocate Mr. Obama's open handshake.
- Re: Honeymoon in Tehran/female journalist in trialposted on 04/16/2009
Honeymoon in Tehran: Two Years of Love and Danger in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni
- posted on 04/18/2009
谢天谢地我没遇上这样的倒霉事儿。昨晚看电影 midnight express 一夜噩梦。 非常好的电影。推荐。是讲土耳其的。
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran convicted an American journalist of spying for the United States and sentenced her to eight years in prison, her lawyer said Saturday, complicating the Obama administration's efforts to break a 30-year-old diplomatic deadlock with Tehran.
The White House said President Barack Obama was "deeply disappointed" by the conviction, while the journalist's father told a radio station his daughter was tricked into making incriminating statements by officials who told her they would free her if she did.
It was the first time Iran has found an American journalist guilty of espionage — a crime that can carry the death penalty.
Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen, was arrested in late January and initially accused of working without press credentials. But earlier this month, an Iranian judge leveled a far more serious allegation, charging her with spying for the United States.
The Fargo, North Dakota native had been living in Iran for six years and had worked as a freelance reporter for several news organizations including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp.
The journalist's Iranian-born father, Reza Saberi, told NPR that his daughter was convicted Wednesday, two days after she appeared before an Iranian court in an unusually swift one-day closed-door trial. The court waited until Saturday to announce its decision to the lawyers, he said.
Saberi's father is in Iran but was not allowed into the courtroom to see his daughter, who he described as "quite depressed." He said she denied the incriminating statements she made when she realized she had been tricked but "apparently in the case they didn't consider her denial."
Saberi's lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, told The Associated Press he would "definitely appeal the verdict."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States was working with Swiss diplomats in Iran to get details about the court's decision and to ensure Saberi's well-being. She said in a statement the United States will "vigorously raise our concerns" with the Iranian government.
The United States has called the charges against Saberi baseless, and the State Department said Thursday that Iran would gain U.S. good will if it "responded in a positive way" to the case.
Obama has said he wants to engage Iran in talks on its nuclear program and other issues — a departure from the tough talk of the Bush administration.
Iran has been mostly lukewarm to the overtures, but Iran's hard-line president gave the clearest signal yet on Wednesday that the Islamic Republic was also willing to start a new relationship with Washington.
In a speech, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran was preparing new proposals aimed at breaking an impasse with the West over its nuclear program.
But Iran's judiciary is dominated by hard-liners, who some analysts say are trying to derail
efforts to improve U.S.-Iran relations.
The United States severed diplomatic relations with Iran after its 1979 Islamic revolution and takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Relations deteriorated further under the former President George W. Bush, who labeled Iran as part of the so-called "Axis of Evil" along with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and North Korea.
Saberi's conviction comes about two months ahead of key presidential elections in June that are pitting hard-liners against reformists who support better relations with the United States. Ahmadinejad is seeking re-election, but the hard-liner's popularity has waned as Iran's economy struggles with high-inflation and unemployment.
Some conservative Iranian lawmakers played down Saberi's conviction, saying the verdict would not affect any ongoing efforts to build trust between the United States and Iran.
"Although there is a wall of mistrust between Iran and the United States, the judicial verdict won't affect possible future talks between the two countries. The verdict is based on evidence," said lawmaker Hosseini Sobhaninia.
Saberi's father disagreed, telling NPR, "I don't think they have any evidence and I haven't heard any evidence that they have made public."
Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized Iran for arresting journalists and suppressing freedom of speech. The government has arrested several Iranian-Americans in the past few years, citing alleged attempts to overthrow its Islamic government through what it calls a "soft revolution." But they were never put on trial and were eventually released from prison.
"The Saberi case is the latest example of how Iranian authorities arbitrarily use spying charges to arrest journalists and tighten the gag on free expression," said Paris-based Reporters Without Borders.
Meanwhile, NPR said it was "deeply distressed by this harsh and unwarranted sentence."
Iran has released few details about the charges against Saberi. Iranian officials initially said she had been arrested for working in the Islamic Republic without press credentials, and she had told her father in a phone conversation that she was arrested after buying a bottle of wine.
An Iranian investigative judge involved in the case later told state TV that Saberi was passing classified information to U.S. intelligence services.
Her parents, who traveled to Iran from their home in Fargo in a bid to help win their daughter's release, could not be reached by the AP for comment on Saturday.
Saberi's father has said his daughter, who was Miss North Dakota in 1997, had been working on a book about the culture and people of Iran, and hoped to finish it and return to the United States this year.
- RE: Honeymoon in Tehran/female journalist in trialposted on 11/18/2017
- RE: Honeymoon in Tehran/female journalist in trialposted on 11/18/2017
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