New York, March 2, 2009--The Committee to Protect Journalists called on the Iranian government today to explain why it has held American freelance journalist Roxana Saberi for over a month without revealing her location or charging her with a crime.
Saberi, 31, was detained in late January and has not been heard from since, except when she placed a two-minute call to her father from an unknown location on February 10 to tell him that she had been arrested for buying wine, her father, Reza Saberi, told CPJ from his home in North Dakota. Saberi called back 10 minutes later, urging her father not to contact the press, adding that she would be released within days, according to her father and numerous news reports. Her father did not contact the press until Saturday.
"We are extremely concerned about
the safety of Roxana Saberi," said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program
Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. "She has been held for more than a month
without charge, which is especially alarming in light of
In July 2003, Iranian-Canadian
Kazemi died in custody, after being detained for three weeks in connection
with pictures she had taken during a student protest in
Saberi's family and literary agent
told CPJ that they believe that the wine merely provided a pretext for
detaining the journalist. Press freedom advocates inside
Although Tehran refused to confirm or deny that Saberi was being held, Hassan Ghashghavi, spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, today implicitly acknowledged that Saberi was in custody, saying that her activities in Iran since 2006 (when her press credentials were revoked) have been "illegal" and "unauthorized," adding that the case was being handled by the Ministry of Justice, according to multiple international news sources. According to Agence France-Presse, the Iranian judiciary will release more information about the case on Tuesday.
Saberi, who has been living in