Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Freed Saberi thanks supporters

Roxana Saberi, the US-Iranian journalist released from jail in Iran on Monday, has thanked all those who helped to win her freedom.

She was freed after four months in prison when an eight-year term on charges of spying for the US was cut. She denied the charges.

Wearing a bright blue headscarf, Ms Saberi looked thin but in high spirits.

"I'm very happy to be free and to be with my parents again," Ms Saberi told reporters outside her flat in Tehran.

"I'm thanking all those people all over the world - which I'm just finding out about - who - whether they knew me or not - helped me and my family during this period," she said, smiling.

"I don't have any specific plans for the moment, I just want to be with my parents and friends, and to relax.

"Thank you very much - all of you,"
said, in her first public comments since her release.

Ms Saberi's imprisonment drew international attention and sparked protests calling for her release.

She is now able to leave Iran, but has been banned from working as a journalist there for five years.

Ms Saberi's parents live in the US city of Fargo, North Dakota, and made the journey to Iran to seek her freedom.

Her father, who is Iranian-born, said they were making plans to return home to the US in the coming days.

Spying charge

On Monday, the White House welcomed the release as a "humanitarian gesture".

Ms Saberi was held in Tehran's Evin prison following her arrest in January.

The journalist originally faced a less serious accusation of buying alcohol, and later of working as a reporter without a valid press card.

The spying charge was introduced later, and she was tried and sentenced behind closed doors by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran.

Ms Saberi worked as a freelance journalist for news organisations, including the BBC and the US-based National Public Radio.

BBC News

Snip

This was the work of some very hard working Foreign Service professional. An impediment to the normalization of US- Iran relations has been removed. At the very least the hardliners in the Islamic Republic of Iran have been taken down a peg or two. One wonder if there is some kind of quid pro quo that had to happen for Ms. Saberi's release. Maybe after a "decent interval?"

Still there is a solid Islamic reason for the very top honcho in the Iranian Republic to do this. The detention of this female on trumped up charges must have caused the top mullah some concern. Islam is fairly clear about the treatment of non-combatants especially women and children. It is hard circle to square for a defender of Islamic virtue to hold such a young and obviously harmless female as a "spy." The circumstances of the trial were not very helpful to the claims of unbiased Islamic jurisprudence also. The whole affair was a PR disaster for the Iranian authorities and it was fairly wise to set the young woman free. There was very little upside even in domestic politics and considerable down side internationally for jailing Ms. Saberi. The Iranian leaders can now put this whole sorry episode behind them. Is not Allah most wise and merciful?
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