May 12: Cyrus on PRI’s The World

Dear Friends,

I’ve been informed that my radio piece on the Roxana Saberi case is airing today. This piece will focus on the political context of her arrest and release and includes interviews with Omid Memarian, Hadi Ghaemi and Roozbeh Mirebrahimi.

It will be available on any of these stations (and their Internet streams):

NYC – 3 pm Eastern – WNYC – 820 AM –
Washington, DC – 8 pm Eastern – WAMU – 88.5 FM –
Los Angeles – 12 pm Pacific – KPCC – 89.3 FM – www.kpcc.opg
Boston – 4 pm Eastern – WGBH – 89.7 FM –
San Francisco – 2 pm Pacific – KQED – 88.5 FM –

You can also find it on The World’s site later in the day and on my site if you miss the broadcast.

Also, don’t forget about The World’s Tech Podcast, hosted by my boss, Clark Boyd. It comes out every Friday.

Lemme know if you hear it!

Update: Audio is here.

NYT: Iran Releases Journalist Convicted of Spying for U.S.


May 12, 2009
Iran Releases Journalist Convicted of Spying for U.S.

The New York Times

TEHRAN— An Iranian-American journalist who was sentenced to eight years of jail on spying charges for Washington was released Monday after an appeal court reduced the sentence, her lawyer said.

Saleh Nikbakht, one of the two lawyers who defended Roxana Saberi in an appeal hearing on Sunday, said the court turned down the original jail term and issued a two-year suspended prison term in its place.

“The verdict was given to me in person today,” Mr. Nikbakht said. “The appeals court has accepted our defense.”

Ms. Saberi had been held in Evin prison since January. The court ruling meant that she can leave the country immediately if she decides to, Mr. Nikbakht said as he awaited her release with Ms. Saberi’s parents, who live in Fargo, North Dakota, another lawyer for Ms. Saberi, and a crowd of journalists and photographers.

Mr. Nikbakht gave no further details about her release or her plans. But her father, Reza Saberi, told The Associated Press: “In the next few days, we will make travel plans to return home.”

AP: US journalist jailed in Iran goes on hunger strike

AP, April 25, 2009:

TEHRAN, Iran – The American journalist convicted of spying in Iran has gone on a hunger strike to protest her imprisonment, her father said Saturday.

Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen, was convicted of spying for the United States and sentenced to eight years in prison after a swift, closed door trial earlier this month.

Saberi was arrested in late January and initially accused of working without press credentials, but earlier this month, an Iranian judge leveled the far more serious allegation of espionage.

“She went on a hunger strike Tuesday to protest her imprisonment. Today is the fifth day,” Reza Saberi told The Associated Press. “She will remain on hunger strike until she is freed.”

Her father said Roxana’s lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshahi, has appealed the sentence.

“The lawyer filed his appeal today,” he said.

Iran’s judiciary chief, Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, ordered a full investigation into the case Monday, a day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad urged Tehran’s chief prosecutor to ensure Saberi be allowed a full defense during her appeal.

AFP: Ahmadinejad urges ‘justice’ for jailed US reporter

Agence France Presse (April 19 2009):

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Sunday for fair treatment of US reporter Roxana Saberi, who was sentenced to eight years in jail as a US spy, the state news agency IRNA reported.

In a rare intervention in judicial proceedings, Ahmadinejad said the Tehran prosecutor should examine the case against both Saberi and Hossein Derakhshan, an Iranian-Canadian blogger who has been behind bars since November, IRNA said.

“At the president’s insistence, you must do what is needed to secure justice … in examining these people’s charges,” said a letter from Ahmadinejad’s chief of staff Abdolreza Sheikholeslami to Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi.

“Take care that the defendants have all the legal freedoms and rights to defend themselves against the charges,” the letter said.

Saberi, 31, a former US beauty queen, was convicted of spying for the United States during a closed-door trial and sentenced to eight years in jail, in a verdict unveiled on Saturday.

US President Barack Obama, who has called for dialogue with Iran since he took office in January, was “deeply disappointed” at the sentence, according to his spokesman.

The State Department branded the espionage charges as “baseless,” while Saberi’s father has said his daughter was “tricked” into confessing by being told she would be released.

Saberi’s lawyer has said he would appeal the verdict, which is the harshest sentence ever to a dual national on security charges in Iran.

She has been held since late January, when she was initially reported to have been arrested for buying alcohol, an illegal act in the Islamic republic.

Derakhshan, a prominent blogger, has been detained since his arrival in Iran in November 2008 and is being investigated on charges of insulting Shiite imams.

© 2009 AFP

[via Antony Loewenstein and Hamid Tehrani]