Iran: American-Iranian journalist released

***UPDATE (16 May 2009): According to our information, Iranian-American journalist and writer Roxana Saberi has now left Iran and is making her way back to the United States. For more information, please click here. ***


English PEN welcomes the release on 11 May 2009 of Iranian-American journalist and writer Roxana Saberi, who has been held since January 2009. She had been sentenced to eight-years in prison on charges of ‘espionage’.


According to press reports, Roxana Saberi was released today from Tehran’s Evin prison a few hours after the appeal hearing, in which the charge of espionage was dropped to the lesser charge of ‘having access to classified information’ and the eight-year prison sentence reduced to a two-year suspended sentence. Her father met her as she left prison, and the family are understood to be leaving Iran soon. Saberi has also been banned from working as a journalist in Iran for five years.  




Roxana Saberi was arrested in late January 2009 for buying alcohol, which is prohibited in Iran. In early March it was reported that her detention was linked to her allegedly ‘illegal’ and ‘unauthorised’ activities as a journalist in Iran since 2006, when her press credentials were revoked. However, on 18 April 2009 she was sentenced behind closed doors by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran to eight years in prison for ‘espionage’, at a one-hour trial which did not conform to international standards of fairness. According to Roxana Saberi’s father, she had made confessions under pressure during her pre-trial detention which were used against her in court. In contrast, the appeal hearing is said to have been conducted in a fair and open manner.


More information:

 – BBC report
 – Free Roxana Saberi’s website

***Thank you to all who those who sent letters of appeal on behalf of Roxana Saberi. ***

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