Parents of Detained U.S. Journalist Can Visit Her, Iran Says

Roxana Saberi was imprisoned for allegedly buying alcohol.
Roxana Saberi was imprisoned for allegedly buying alcohol. (AP)
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By Thomas Erdbrink
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, April 6, 2009

TEHRAN, Iran, April 5 -- Authorities in Tehran told the parents of an imprisoned Iranian American journalist Sunday that they could see their daughter Monday, the family's attorney said.

Reza Saberi and his wife, Akiko, arrived in Iran early Sunday to show support for their U.S.-born daughter, Roxana, who also holds an Iranian passport and has been in custody in Tehran since January for allegedly buying alcohol, which is prohibited in the Islamic republic. Iranian officials have also said that she was working as a journalist without the necessary press credentials.

"We went to Evin prison today, and authorities told us that the family is welcome to visit their daughter tomorrow during normal visiting hours. All they have to do is bring their identification," said the lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshai. He said the couple came to Iran to "lift their daughter's spirit" and intended to stay until she is released.

Saberi, who has reported for the BBC and the U.S.-based National Public Radio, has been living in Iran for six years, working as a journalist while also pursuing a master's degree in Iranian studies and international relations. Iranian authorities revoked her journalism work permit in 2007 for unknown reasons. She was reportedly working on a book about Iran and planning to return to the United States.

Prosecutors have issued a formal indictment against Saberi, but her attorney said he has not yet seen the charges. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said last week that the United States had given a letter to Iranian officials during a meeting in the Netherlands, seeking Iran's help in resolving Saberi's case, as well as those of Robert Levinson and Esha Momeni, two other Americans missing or detained in Iran.

Levinson, a private detective probing cigarette smuggling, went missing in 2007 during a visit to Iran's Kish island. Iranian officials have repeatedly denied that Levinson is in their country. Momeni, an Iranian American student at California State University at Northridge, was detained in Iran in October for supporting a campaign for women's rights. Momeni was later released, but she has not been allowed to leave the country.

Iranian leaders have repeatedly asked for the release of three Iranian diplomats held without trial by U.S. forces in Iraq since 2007. The Iranians, accused of spying, were arrested during a raid at what Iran says was its consulate in Irbil. U.S. forces said the office was used by members of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Iran recently called for the "speedy and unconditional freedom of its consulate officials."

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