WordCount – Freelancing in the Digital Age

By Michelle Vranizan Rafter

Help fight for release of freelance journalist Roxana Saberi

with 13 comments

roxana-saberi-photo2UPDATED APRIL 18: U.S. freelance broadcast journalist Roxana Saberi was sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran, where she had been accused of spying. Saberi, a former Miss North Dakota who’d reported from Iran for National Public Radio and other news organizations for the past six years, stood trial in Tehran earlier this week. According to news reports, Saberi, 31, was accused of posing as a journalist while secretly passing information to U.S. intelligence agencies, charges American officials denied. Saberi, who holds dual Iranian-American citizenship, was tried in Revolutionary Court, which hears cases involving national security.

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UPDATED APRIL 8: Iran has formally charged Iranian-American freelance broadcast journalist Roxana Saberi with spying, news agencies are reporting today. The Times of London reported Iranian media as saying an Iranian deputy processor has confirmed Saberi has accepted the charges. An attorney for Saberi said he hasn’t seen the charges, according to the Times report. Also today her parents were able to visit her in Tehran’s Evin prison for the first time since she was arrested two months ago.

Read the AP’s story on the situation here and the Financial Times’ version here.

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The Committee to Project Journalists is asking writers to help petition for the release of a freelance journalist held without charge in an Iranian prison since last month.

Roxana Saberi, a Fargo, North Dakota, resident and one-time Miss North Dakota, has lived in Iran for the past six years working as a freelance TV and radio reporter for National Public Radio, PRI’s The World, the BBC, ABC News and other media outlets.

CPJ, an independent organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, has launched a Facebook petition drive to collect 1,000 signatures requesting Saberi’s release. Once enough signatures are collected, CPJ plans to send the petition to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

According to a Fargo TV station report, Saberi told her parents on Feb. 10 that she was arrested after a bottle of wine she’d bought – an illegal activity in Iran – was found in her apartment. She hasn’t been heard from since.

Saberi graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in 1997 and Jack C. Doppelt, a Medill journalism professor, is helping spread word of her plight. “Roxana is a talented and committed journalist, and a person of warmth and good will. She is someone who deserves our attention, support and thoughts,” Doppelt says in an open letter urging journalists to sign the petition.

13 Responses

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  1. […] Go here to read the rest: Help fight for release of freelance journalist Roxana Saberi … […]

  2. I normally do not pay much attention to the news these days but today at work something struck me. I sat down on my break and saw the Fargo Forum laying on the table. I began to read the article about a Journalist being held in a prison in Iran. I then peered over to the picture and was instantly appalled. I once had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Seberi at a local steam show she was covering for the local news. I opened a gate for her and talked briefly with her about the area I was working in. I still to this day remember her for how genuine she was. Always smiling and professional. The world definitely was a small one after all. It saddens me that Iran is holding her for what again? Buying a bottle of wine or was it working without a journalists license? Honestly the story coming from Iran doesn’t seem to tell the same story twice. Whats really going on here is someone that everyone would be so blessed to meet is being held in a prison in a foreign country without proper reason. Is the U.S. perfect, no. Can any country say that they are perfect, absolutely not. I am very pleased to see that Hillary Clinton is getting involved in this case. Hopefully she can help return Roxana to her family in North Dakota. Please pray for Roxana and her safe return. If your not religious then keep her in your thoughts and hope for her safe return. Roxana, I believe without a shred of doubt, would do the same for you without pause.


    March 5, 2009 at 4:16 pm

  3. Thanks for sharing your story, and for your heart-felt concern.

    Michelle R.

    Michelle Rafter

    March 5, 2009 at 4:19 pm

  4. […] a comment » Traffic’s way up this week from people doing Internet searches on Roxana Saberi, the U.S. freelance broadcast journalist I blogged about after officials in Iran detained her three […]

  5. The American media must play a greater role in this – she is one of us.


    April 10, 2009 at 3:14 pm

  6. Hopefully people will read this and be motivated to act.


    Michelle Rafter

    April 10, 2009 at 3:17 pm

  7. Wow, I can’t believe this is happening. I guess they’re making her “guilty unless proven innocent”??

    Freelance Venue

    April 14, 2009 at 4:45 pm

  8. […] Recent Comments WordCount online med… on My TwiTip guest post – when 1 …WordCount online med… on SeattlePI.com’s great on…WordCount online med… on Can ProPublica be the public i…Twitter and Freelanc… on A writers’ guide to gett…Freelance Venue on Help fight for release of free… […]

  9. Thank You for caring enough to make a difference. A horrible mistake has been made and it’s tragic that an innocent human being is being treated unfairly without a measure of justice.


    May 1, 2009 at 9:52 am

  10. The last I read was that she was on a hunger strike. This was in yesterdays Star Tribune. These days I have to cring to think of anyone in a situation like this,it is pins and needles, esp. in sight of other reports of people held there. Of course, I strongly hope & pray for a safe and good outcome!!

    Debra Ripp

    May 1, 2009 at 9:00 pm

  11. […] U.S. freelancer ends hunger strike – Roxana Saberi, the freelance broadcast convicted of spying in Iran ended a two-week hunger strike after Iranian […]

  12. […] a comment » Iran released jailed U.S. freelance journalist Roxana Saberi today after a judicial court reduced the sentence of her April conviction on espionage charges on […]

  13. Hi Michelle,

    I recently read about Roxanne while researching articles on Cannes and thus found your article. After 4 months in prison it is great to see that she has been freed.

    Simon C

    June 2, 2009 at 10:54 pm

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