Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Miss North Dakota is Under Arrest in Iran

They are accusing the 31-year-old journalist of being an American spy:

Roxana Saberi was born in the U.S.
and grew up in Fargo, North Dakota.

The former Beauty Queen became a journalist, and had been living in Iran for the past 6 years. Her father is from Iran, and she holds duel citizenship in America and Iran. Her mother is of Japanese ansestory.



Roxana Saberi working in Iran


Unfortunately she has become a pawn in the game Iranian President Amadinejad is playing. And as a western woman, it must be difficult culturally.

Iran president urges full defense for US reporter
[...] Saberi was arrested in January and initially accused of working without press credentials. But earlier this month, an Iranian judge leveled a more serious allegation that she was passing classified information to U.S. intelligence services.

She told her father in a phone conversation that she was arrested after buying a bottle of wine.
Her father said she had been working on a book about Iranian culture and hoped to finish it and return to the U.S. this year.

Saberi, who was 1997 Miss North Dakota, had been living in Iran for six years and worked as a freelance reporter for news organizations including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp. Because Saberi's father was born in Iranian, she received Iranian citizenship.

Her parents, who live in Fargo, traveled to Iran to seek her release. Her father, Reza Saberi, has said his daughter wasn't allowed a proper defense during her one-day trial behind closed doors a week ago. He said no evidence has been made public, and his daughter was tricked into making incriminating statements by officials who told her they would free her if she did.

He told CNN on Sunday that her trial lasted only 15 minutes. "It was a mock trial," he said.


One Iranian analyst said Ahmadinejad's letter was politically motivated and suggested Iran could be using Saberi's case to gain leverage with the U.S.

"Iran can use Saberi's case as a bargaining card in possible negotiations with the U.S.," said analyst Saeed Leilaz. [...]

What they call a "trial" in Iran is often a brief appearance before an Imam, who makes a decision after a few words. Calling it a "trial" would be generous.

Saberi's parents in Fargo, North Dakota


I think the real reason this is happening now is explained later in the article:

[...] Saberi's conviction also comes about two months ahead of key presidential elections in June that are pitting hard-liners against reformists, who support better relations with Washington. Ahmadinejad is seeking re-election, but the hard-liner's popularity has waned and he's been trying to draw support away from reformists. [...]

They are also holding a Canadian-Iranian blogger in custody. Read the whole thing for all the details.

Amadinejad is controversial even in his own country. If the reformists have their way, he would be forced out. Naturally he is doing everything he can to prevent that. Roxana Saberi and Canadian Hossein Derakhshan are being used a hostages.

Free and genuine elections in Iran could fix quite a few things. It's their best hope, but I don't see how that can happen with Amadinejad in charge.


UPDATE 05-11-09

Iran frees U.S.-born journalist accused of spying

The finally released her, but still insist the bogus charges are true. And now for releasing her, they will expect... what? No doubt we'll find out soon.

No word on the status of Canadian blogger Hossein Derakhshan, who was also being held. This article in fact says that 14 other blogger and journalists are still being held prisoner. It sure isn't over for them.


Related Links:

Iran, under the surface... is it crumbling?

Iranian Fashion Police Publicly Bludgeon Women

Amadinejad talks crazy on Iranian TV, with help from a "Death to Amercia" chorus
     

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