Annual Report 2013
The state of the world's human rights

21 April 2009

Demand grows for release of Iranian-American journalist

Demand grows for release of Iranian-American journalist
Iran has been urged to release the Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who was last week sentenced to eight years in jail after being convicted as a spy.

"Roxana Saberi should be released immediately and unconditionally," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Middle East Programme.   

"We fear that she may be held as a pawn in the ongoing developments in US-Iranian relations."

Saberi's father, Reza, said his daughter was tricked into making a confession, possibly during the five weeks when she had no access to a lawyer, after being told by investigators she would be set free if she co-operated. She retracted these confessions at her trial.

Roxana Saberi, who was born in the USA but has lived in Iran for the past six years, was convicted of "espionage" on 18 April after a closed trial.

She was arrested on 31 January 2009 and held in Tehran's Evin Prison, where reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees are common.

Saberi originally faced the less serious accusation of buying alcohol and later of working as a journalist without a valid press card.

Soon afterwards, the charge of spying was introduced and she was tried in closed session by the Revolutionary Court and sentenced. No evidence of espionage has been made public.

Her lawyer has stated his intention to lodge an appeal against her conviction and sentence. Iran's Head of the Judiciary has also written to the Tehran Judiciary stating that "different dimensions of this case, including material and moral elements of the crime, must be considered at the appeals stage in a careful, quick and fair way."

"The fact that Roxana Saberi faced a shifting tide of accusations from the time of her arrest until her trial gives rise to fears that the Iranian authorities were looking for any excuse to detain her," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.  

"We have also noted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statement that he has instructed the Tehran General Prosecutor to ensure that she receives her full legal rights to defend herself.  This appears to be a tacit recognition of a fact that we have been highlighting for years - that justice in Iran is hard to come by."

"We believe that Roxana Saberi is being held solely for political reasons in connection  to Iran's relations with the USA, or on account of the peaceful exercise of her internationally recognized right to freedom of expression and, as such, she is a prisoner of conscience who should be released immediately and unconditionally."

Read More

Support jailed Iranian-American journalist (Appeal for Action, 23 April 2009)


Freedom Of Expression 
Prisoners Of Conscience 
Trials And Legal Systems 




Middle East And North Africa 

@amnestyonline on twitter


30 January 2015

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe should use his position as the Chairperson of the African Union to address key human rights concerns in different parts of the... Read more »

01 February 2015

Tens of thousands of individuals born in the Dominican Republic, the vast majority of Haitian descent, will be put at risk of expulsion when the deadline to register for... Read more »

26 January 2015

Tucked in a dark corner of a secret detention centre in The Philippines was a mock-up of the multicolour wheel used in the "Wheel of Fortune". But rather than spinning for... Read more »

30 January 2015

The UK authorities must respond urgently to a statement today by a former Bush Administration staffer that interrogations of CIA detainees took place on the British... Read more »

30 January 2015

Last night’s royal decree offering pardons for Saudi Arabian prisoners convicted on “public rights” charges will only be a step in the right direction if the releases do not... Read more »