Journalist Roxana Saberi turns 32 on Sunday — in prison. Saberi, who holds dual American and Iranian citizenships, was convicted in Iran of spying for the U.S. and sentenced to eight years in prison. Her attorney filed an appeal Saturday, the same day her father, Reza Saberi, announced that she had started a hunger strike.
From Tehran, Reza and his wife, Akiko Saberi, told Weekend Edition guest host Lynn Neary that their daughter is determined to stay on her hunger strike until she is freed.
"She didn't wait for us to persuade her not to do so," Reza Saberi said. "She said she's determined to do this."
He said there are now two lawyers who are working to free his daughter, but the appeal will not be a transparent process. "It's not like a regular court, where the lawyer can ask for evidence," he said, adding that the case would be handled "behind closed doors."
Akiko Saberi said the support of people around the world has helped keep their spirits going. When she and her husband were first allowed to see Roxana, they found their daughter weak. "We had to tell her the world was with her. The whole world," Akiko said. "That helped her."
Though she worries for her daughter's health, Akiko knows she is resolved to defend her innocence. "She knows she is not guilty. She hasn't done anything wrong," Akiko says. "She said this is the only way to be true to herself. You have to be honest to yourself and to others — that's her character."