American Journalist Arrested In Iran

Roxana Saberi and former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami i i

hide captionRoxana Saberi with former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

Courtesy of Saberi family
Roxana Saberi and former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami

Roxana Saberi with former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.

Courtesy of Saberi family
Roxana Saberi was crowned Miss North Dakota in 1997.

hide captionSaberi was crowned Miss North Dakota in 1997.

Courtesy of Saberi family

Iran In Depth

Authorities in Iran have arrested and detained an American freelance journalist who has reported for NPR, the BBC and other news organizations.

Roxana Saberi, 31, was born in the United States to an Iranian-born father and Japanese-born mother. Saberi moved to Iran six years ago and was arrested in Tehran almost a month ago. In an interview with NPR, her father, Reza Saberi, said he last heard from her on Feb. 10.

"She called from an unknown place and said she's been kept in detention," he said from Fargo, N.D., where her family lives. He said she had been in detention for 10 days at that point.

An Iranian official confirmed Monday that Saberi had been detained. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hasan Qashqavi said Saberi was engaged in "illegal" activities because she continued working after the government revoked her press credentials in 2006, the Associated Press reported.

"She said that she had bought a bottle of wine and the person that sold it had reported it and then they came and arrested her," he said, adding that that was just an excuse to arrest her.

Her father says he doesn't know where Saberi is being held or what the charges are. They've stayed quiet until now, in hopes she would be released.

Saberi grew up in North Dakota, where she was a star high school soccer player and pianist. In 1997, she was named Miss North Dakota. She moved to Iran six years ago, where she had been working as a freelance journalist and completing work on a master's degree in Iranian studies and international relations.

Iranian officials revoked Saberi's press credentials more than a year ago, but the government tolerated her reporting short news stories out of Iran. Her father said she was planning to move back to the United States later this year.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said that at the end of last year, Iran was "the sixth-leading jailer of journalists." The group's Web site says more than 30 journalists were investigated or detained there in 2008.

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