UPDATED APRIL 18: U.S. freelance broadcast journalist Roxana Saberi was sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran, where she had been accused of spying. Saberi, a former Miss North Dakota who’d reported from Iran for National Public Radio and other news organizations for the past six years, stood trial in Tehran earlier this week. According to news reports, Saberi, 31, was accused of posing as a journalist while secretly passing information to U.S. intelligence agencies, charges American officials denied. Saberi, who holds dual Iranian-American citizenship, was tried in Revolutionary Court, which hears cases involving national security.
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UPDATED APRIL 8: Iran has formally charged Iranian-American freelance broadcast journalist Roxana Saberi with spying, news agencies are reporting today. The Times of London reported Iranian media as saying an Iranian deputy processor has confirmed Saberi has accepted the charges. An attorney for Saberi said he hasn’t seen the charges, according to the Times report. Also today her parents were able to visit her in Tehran’s Evin prison for the first time since she was arrested two months ago.
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The Committee to Project Journalists is asking writers to help petition for the release of a freelance journalist held without charge in an Iranian prison since last month.
Roxana Saberi, a Fargo, North Dakota, resident and one-time Miss North Dakota, has lived in Iran for the past six years working as a freelance TV and radio reporter for National Public Radio, PRI’s The World, the BBC, ABC News and other media outlets.
CPJ, an independent organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, has launched a Facebook petition drive to collect 1,000 signatures requesting Saberi’s release. Once enough signatures are collected, CPJ plans to send the petition to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
According to a Fargo TV station report, Saberi told her parents on Feb. 10 that she was arrested after a bottle of wine she’d bought – an illegal activity in Iran – was found in her apartment. She hasn’t been heard from since.
Saberi graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in 1997 and Jack C. Doppelt, a Medill journalism professor, is helping spread word of her plight. “Roxana is a talented and committed journalist, and a person of warmth and good will. She is someone who deserves our attention, support and thoughts,” Doppelt says in an open letter urging journalists to sign the petition.