By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Iranian-American journalist gets eight years

Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi has been sentenced to eight years in an Iranian prison, the Committee to Protect Journalists reports. The dispatch begins:

An Iranian court convicted journalist Roxana Saberi of espionage and sentenced her to eight years in prison today following a closed, one-day trial earlier this week, according to international news reports. Her lawyer said he will appeal. “Roxana Saberi’s trial lacked transparency and we are concerned that she may not have been treated fairly,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator. “We call on the Iranian authorities to release her on bail pending her appeal.”

You have to wonder if Saberi has been caught up in the byzantine workings of internal Iranian politics. President Obama has attempted to find an opening to the regime. Iranians who don’t want to see any contacts between Iran and the United States obviously stand to benefit from Saberi’s imprisonment.

Obama now pretty much can’t — and shouldn’t — have anything to do with the Iranian government unless it releases Saberi. Which it won’t.

Here is a link to the CPJ’s online petition demanding freedom for Saberi. I’m going to go sign the Facebook version right now.

More: I see that the petition is now closed. But I joined the CPJ’s Facebook group, and urge you to do the same.

Still more: According to Global Voices Online, an Iranian blogger says Saberi is being held so that she can be used as a pawn in a prisoner swap.

Photo of Saberi with former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami.

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18 Comments

  1. bostonmediawatch

    My first thought was as you added: Bargaining chip.So now the right wingers will undoubtedly praise the heroic journalist and call for a nuke strike to rescue him or her.Anybody know who the hero Cap’n Philips voted for yet, or his stance on gay marriage or abortion? Why not?

  2. Bill H.

    My guess is that we’ll see Saberi released in the near future as a “goodwill gesture” by the Iranians. Especially if Obama makes it clear that U.S.-Iranian relations go nowhere until that happens.

  3. Bill Baar

    It’s Akmanjehad kicking sand in Obama’s face. The nuke talk. Now this… the making fun of Obama’s extended hand comment. This is all testing of the administration by an Iran on the economic edge.

  4. Bill H.

    I think we’re going to see an administration that is not distracted by the “sand in the face” trick. Obama has very publicly extended the hand of normalized relations to Iran and others. If they choose to slap that away, their doing so will be equally public and well noted by the rest of the world. We’ll see no knee-jerk mistakes from this administration.

  5. Bill Baar

    Well, I already experienced Iranian rockets in my face in Baghdad.Israeli’s are getting jumpy with Iran’s talk of nukes in the face.Read Ralph Peter’s lately on Obama’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan and it seems like all the mistakes are lining up for a very tought time very soon.

  6. bostonmediawatch

    “Israeli’s are getting jumpy with Iran’s talk of nukes in the face.”LOL.”Israeli’s”, as you put it, are jumpy all the time.I never met a bunch of pushovers like the Israelis. You could be a colonel in the Israeli Army.

  7. Bill H.

    Bill, whoever put you in Baghdad to face Iranian rockets had no business doing that, in my opinion. An unnecessary risk of your life. But we don’t need to get into that. The question is: do the current initiatives on the part of Obama make the U.S. safer or less so? I believe they do.

  8. O-FISH-L

    Dan wrote, “Those who don’t want to see any contacts between Iran and the United States obviously stand to benefit from Saberi’s imprisonment.” What? Those who oppose contacts between the US and Iran don’t need any more justification for their stance. The suggestion that the jailing of an innocent American is a “benefit” to their cause is perverse and akin to saying someone getting cancer is a benefit to the American Cancer Society. —-bostonmediawatch wrote: “So now the right wingers will undoubtedly praise the heroic journalist and call for a nuke strike to rescue him or her.”Actually bmw, the last time we needed innocent Americans rescued from Iran it was the Bible, not nukes, that did the job quite nicely. Specifically President Reagan placing his hand on the all time best seller. My personal suggestion for a quick resolution is for Obama to send Dixie Chick Natalie Maines over to talk some sense into Ahmadinejad. After all, she has a way with Iranian men (the media has been careful to hide this) and with their shared hatred for America and former President Bush, the captive scribe will be free in no time.

  9. bostonmediawatch

    What the fuck is Bill Barr taling about? Iranian rockets exploding in his face?Bill H, can you clarify your opinion please:”The question is: do the current initiatives on the part of Obama make the U.S. safer or less so? I believe they do.”Jesus H. Christ.

  10. bostonmediawatch

    Now that I know she was Miss North Dakota 1997, I’m all in favor of nuking Iran to get her out.She might get killed, but me must protect the homeland at all costs.

  11. O'Rion

    After seeing the “60 Minutes” piece two weeks ago, is it really smart to have a cute little “espionage” agent/journalist bopping around Iran? Just asking.

  12. Dan Kennedy

    Fish: Those Iranians who don’t want to see any contacts between Iran and the United States obviously stand to benefit from Saberi’s imprisonment.We clear now?

  13. lkcape

    So what’s your solution, Dan?Talk, talk, talk?And more talk, talk, talk?And still more talk, talk talk?The President is finding now that governing is is very different from campaigning. But he has the “utmost confidence” in all his key players.Don’t think the SEALs can help in this situation…and I’m not sure Secretary Clinton is quite up to the task at hand.

  14. O-FISH-L

    Yes Dan, that’s better. I thought you meant Americans who oppose (diplomatic) contact would benefit by an American being imprisoned illegally in Iran. Technically, I guess they would, but “benefit” struck me as odd in that context. Thanks for clarifying. Now back to the B’s and Sox.

  15. Bill H.

    BMW: To clarify my position: Governments, including Iran, Cuba, North Korea, etc., act in their own best interests. Prosperity, international respect and recognition of regional hegemony are inherent in those interests. My view is that Obama, in making overtures to those governments based on that recognition, stands a better chance of success in moderating their extremism than his predecessor, who offered the “axis of evil” rhetoric. While you may believe that the U.S. was safer during the Bush years, perhaps because we suffered only one horrific attack on the homeland, I don’t subscribe to that belief. I am pleased with what Obama has initiated, and I think that international opinion shares my optimism.

  16. Rick in Duxbury

    BMW: you inject opinions on gay marriage and abortion by Phillips into the discussion about how crazy the Iranian regime is? What, no global warming? Please tell me that was an attempt at humor.

  17. mike_b1

    Rightwing nutjobs: Try looking at it from the Iranian point of view. They are trying to goad a reaction. No reaction, and they lose. Where were you jackasses when I was jumped by four guys in just outside the Inner Harbor mall Baltimore and forced to fend for myself on a busy early Saturday evening while dozens of pedestrians and cars went by? Oh yeah: the chickenhawks were too scared to help. Your talk is cheap. Dan: What if she is a spy posing as a journalist?

  18. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: Not likely. Weirdly enough, the New York Times today suggests that she may have been convicted in order to stop Ahmadinejad himself from reaching out to the U.S. If that’s true, it’s further evidence that the term “Iranian moderate” makes very little sense.

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