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SPJ celebrating release of Roxana Saberi, held in Iran since January


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5/11/2009


For Immediate Release:
5/11/09

Contact:
Dave Aeikens, SPJ President, (320) 255-8744,
daeikens@stcloud.gannett.com
Scott Leadingham, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000,
sleadingham@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is celebrating the release of American journalist Roxana Saberi, who was held in Iran since late January.

Saberi was released Monday after an Iranian appeals court overturned her previous eight-year sentence for espionage. Originally detained for reporting without a license, she was held for over two months before being convicted in a secret one-day trial. Though freed, the appeals court forbade her from reporting for five years. The freelance journalist has been in Iran for six years, reporting for various outlets, including the BBC, NPR and Fox News.

“This is absolutely incredible news,” said SPJ President Dave Aeikens, who spoke with Saberi’s father after her detention and offered assistance. “Iran has a long way to go in guaranteeing freedom of the press, but this is one small indication that there is hope for the future.”

Roxana’s parents traveled to Iran to advocate for their daughter. They vowed to stay there until she was released. Reza, her father, is Iranian. Akiko, her mother, is Japanese. Though born and raised in the United States, Roxana also has Iranian citizenship due to her father.

After her conviction in mid-April, Roxana protested with a hunger strike, vowing to maintain it until her release. She eventually ended the strike after falling ill.

Along with numerous journalism groups, SPJ has advocated for Roxana’s release since learning of her detention. See a previous statement here.

While this is heartening news, SPJ remains concerned for the welfare of American journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling. North Korean border agents detained the Current TV reporters in March as they filmed a documentary near the Chinese-North Korean border. See SPJ’s statement on the situation here.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit www.spj.org.

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