Friday, April 17, 2009

Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Efforts on Behalf of Roxana Saberi

Roxana Saberi, Getty Images

A NY Times editorial on Thursday (April 16) reported the status of journalist Roxana Saberi, imprisoned in Iran. The editorial board failed to mention the efforts of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saberi’s behalf noted earlier in The Women on the Web. The board also appeared clueless regarding Secretary Clinton’s enlistment of Bill Richardson’s assistance on the case: Richardson negotiated with Mohammad Khazaee, the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, to allow Saberi's parents to travel to Iran to see their daughter.

From the Women on the Web:

Tehran’s prosecutor claims Saberi, 31, accepted all the charges against her, but other reports say she hasn’t even seen them. The exact charges should be announced Saturday, and she could go on trial in Iran’s Revolutionary Court as early as next week. All this worries not only Saberi’s family, who say they’re staying in Iran until she’s free, but also Hillary Clinton. The secretary of state — who also this week said it "makes sense" to start negotiations with Iran on its nuclear capabilities — called on Tehran once again to release the freelancer. The Swiss government has been working to get information on Saberi’s case to the U.S.

"We are deeply concerned by the news that we are hearing," Clinton said after a diplomatic meeting in Washington. "I will, as will the rest of the (State) Department, continue to follow this very closely and we wish for her speedy release and return to her family."

The NY Times editorial reports:

There is nothing resembling justice in Iran’s prosecution of Roxana Saberi. The government’s accusations against Ms. Saberi, a journalist with dual American-Iranian citizenship, have fluctuated wildly — culminating only last week with charges that she spied for the United States government. Her one-day trial this week was held in secret, and state officials have not revealed any evidence against her.

Iran’s government needs to release Ms. Saberi and end this dangerous farce.

Ms. Saberi, whose father was born in Iran, grew up in North Dakota. She moved to Iran six years ago and worked as a freelance reporter, including for National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corporation, while also pursuing a master’s degree in Iranian studies.

When she was arrested in January, Ms. Saberi was first accused of buying wine (illegal in Iran but hardly meriting imprisonment) and then of working without press credentials. While the government revoked those credentials three years ago, it tolerated her filing of news stories for months afterward, according to NPR.

On March 6, in comments that seemed to suggest the case had been resolved, an Iranian prosecutor told the Iranian Student News Agency that Ms. Saberi would be released from custody “in the next few days.”

Then last week, the government suddenly charged Ms. Saberi with espionage.

Read More:


Even a Time’s reader was aware of developments one might have expected the editorial to include:

Apparently, Secretary Clinton has enlisted the help of Governor Bill Richardson and he was able to negotiate a visit with her by her parents just before the trial. If he can employ his diplomatic skills to extract her from this peril, it will be a true miracle.

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