News execs seek info on Saberi


American reporter Roxana Saberi is still being held in Iran, where officials have refused to disclose what charges have been made against her. Executives of several major US news organizations are now requesting that the Iranian government disclose what, if anything, she is charged with and allow an international rights organization to have access to her to determine the state of her health and well being.

Saberi’s father, in Fargo, ND, told CNN that an attorney was permitted to meet with the woman on Sunday, but that there is still no information on why she was arrested January 31st. Saberi had freelanced in Iran for NPR, Fox News, the BBC and other organizations.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said Monday it delivered a petition bearing more than 10,000 signatures to Iranian diplomats at the United Nations. The petition calls for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to intervene in Saberi’s case.

Now a group of major news organization executives has issued this joint statement:

On behalf of the family, friends and colleagues of Roxana Saberi, and the many American citizens who share our concerns, we urgently request a series of steps be taken in the case of Roxana Saberi, an independent journalist and dual citizen of the United States and Iran, who is being held in Evin Prison in Tehran, Iran. 

We now ask that one or more international organizations that have responsibilities and rights under the Geneva Conventions be permitted access to Roxana immediately to ascertain her health and well-being and to determine the conditions under which she is held.     

We now ask that the specific charges against Roxana Saberi be made public. If no charges are filed, we now urge her immediate release and ask that she be given permission to return to her home country, the United States.  

For the past six years, Ms. Saberi has resided in Iran, where she is an established and respected professional journalist.  She has filed for NPR, ABC, BBC and others.  Before her arrest, she was pursuing a master’s degree in Iranian studies and international relations and writing a book about Iran.

On Thursday, February 26, nearly a month after the actual event, we learned that Roxana was detained by Iranian authorities in late January.  Since then she has been denied contact with family, friends and associates. On February 10, briefly and under apparent duress, she contacted her family to inform them of her arrest and detention and requested their silence.  On Sunday, March 1, her family revealed the story to their home town press in Fargo, ND, and to NPR, given their growing concern over the lack of contact from Roxana.   
Roxana Saberi is a U. S. citizen, born in New Jersey, raised in North Dakota and educated in Minnesota.  She has many friends and colleagues across the nation.  We are deeply concerned about her well-being and the deprivation of her rights, and we will continue to press for action until we are successful.

Vivian Schiller
President & CEO, NPR

David L. Westin
President, ABC News

Jon Williams
World Editor, BBC News

Paula Kerger
President & CEO, PBS

Robert Thomson
Editor-in-Chief, Wall Street Journal

John Stack
VP Newsgathering, The Fox News Channel

Simon Marks
President, Feature Story News