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Journalist Roxana Saberi will speak at 2009 SPJ Convention


For Immediate Release:

Dave Aeikens, SPJ President, (320) 255-8744, daeikens@stcloud.gannett.com
Karen Grabowski, SPJ Communications Coordinator, (317) 927-8000 ext. 215, kgrabowski@spj.org


INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists is pleased to announce that Roxana Saberi, the freelance journalist imprisoned in Iran from Jan. 31 to May 11, will be the keynote speaker at the Mark of Excellence Awards Luncheon on Friday, Aug. 28, during the 2009 SPJ Convention and National Journalism Conference in Indianapolis.

“We are excited about having Roxana Saberi speak at the Mark of Excellence Awards luncheon,” SPJ President Dave Aeikens said. “Her experiences are compelling and of great interest to all journalists, but especially to the students who will be attending the awards ceremony. We are looking forward to hearing her.”

SPJ closely followed Saberi’s detainment in Iran, advocating for her release and keeping its members and the public informed of her arrest, sentence and release. Saberi, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran, had lived in Iran for six years prior to her arrest. While in the country, she was pursuing a master’s degree in Iranian studies and was a freelance journalist, reporting for news outlets such as the BBC, NPR and FOX News.

Saberi was arrested in January for allegedly buying alcohol, an illegal act in Iran, but the charges were later changed to reporting without credentials. Then, in April, she was charged with espionage and sentenced to eight years in jail.

An Iranian appeals court later overturned Saberi’s sentence, freeing her from jail but forbidding her from reporting for five years. Since returning to the U.S., Saberi has spoken openly about Iran, writing an op-ed published in the Washington Post in June. She also advocated for the release of Current TV journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling during their detention in North Korea.

The luncheon, which takes place at noon on Aug. 28, recognizes the accomplishments of student journalists and their advisers and instructors. For more information about the awards ceremony and the convention, visit www.spj.org/convention.asp.

CBS Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Lara Logan was previously slotted to speak at the luncheon, but she informed SPJ last week that she could not attend due to work responsibilities in Afghanistan.

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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