CPJ calls for Iranian president’s intervention in Saberi case

New York, March 9, 2009–With an American journalist now in an Iranian jail for more than five weeks, the Committee to Protect Journalists called for the charges against her to be made public and for the Iranian government to ensure that she will receive due process and be released as quickly as possible. 

CPJ delivered a petition today in support of American freelancer Roxana Saberi to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York. With more than 10,000 signatures, the petition requested the direct intervention of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Saberi, 31, has worked for National Public Radio, the BBC, ABC News, and other international media outlets. She was detained in late January and has not been heard from since February 10. A spokesman for Iran’s judiciary confirmed on March 3 that she is being held at Tehran’s Evin prison, where political prisoners are routinely detained.          

“We hope that this petition conveys to President Ahmadinejad and the Iranian leadership the depth of concern for Roxana Saberi, who has now been in custody for 37 days,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “All of us are anxious to see her released as soon as possible. But at a minimum, she is entitled to basic due process. We call on President Ahmadinejad to ensure that her basic human rights are respected.”

CPJ launched its Facebook petition in support of Saberi on March 2, with the aim of collecting 1,000 signatures. The public outcry against her detention was so great that CPJ extended the deadline for signatures four additional days.

For more information on Roxana Saberi and press freedom issues in Iran, please visit www.cpj.org.