Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Journalist to lecture on imprisonment in Iran

Roxana Saberi will share her experiences

Express Staff Writer

Roxana Saberi will present a lecture at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum on Thursday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m.

On Jan. 31, 2009 Roxana Saberi was working in Tehran, Iran, as a freelance journalist when she was arrested and excused of espionage. She was blindfolded and placed in solitary confinement. Though she was not physically tortured, she was placed under grave physiological pressure to admit to being a spy. She had no access to a lawyer. Saberi was freed after 100 days on May 11, 2009.

An Iranian-Japanese American who was born in New Jersey, Saberi moved to Iran in 2003 to open a news bureau for an independent broadcast news agency, Feature Story News (FSN), which distributed her reports to a wide range of broadcasters around the world. She also made occasional contributions to PBS, NPR and Fox News.

Saberi, 32, will tell her story and speak about the state of affairs in Iran at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum on Thursday, Jan. 7, at 7 p.m. as part of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts' lecture series.

She said that recovering from her ordeal has been "challenging but a good experience."

"Writing a book has been helpful with the healing process," she said. "It helps to think things through."

Saberi will discuss her experience and explain how many journalists are facing violations of their basic rights. She said the world is becoming more aware of human rights violations because of the disputed election that occurred in Iran in the past year.

"I am writing my book as a journalist and through my first experience," she said. "I met a lot of women in prison and I got to know them and sympathize with them about their situation."

She said people in Iran have a lot of courage, and they have grown weary of all the injustices committed by their government.

"Iranians do not want to remain quiet," she said. "The government is doing things in the name of religion, but it's about power, and the people in power will do whatever they can to enforce their rule."

Iran has placed many restrictions on journalists. Saberi said the organization Reporters without Borders reported that Iran is the biggest jailer of journalists in the Middle East.

"I think what is very important in my case is that there was a lot international attention given to it," Saberi said. "I hope that something will happen for other people who are in prison and faced with violence and brutality."

Saberi said the brutality and intimidation used by the regime against peaceful demonstrators and others pursuing their basic rights will not strengthen the regime's power but will only threaten it in the long run.

Saberi holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a second master's in international relations from Cambridge University. Her book, "Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran," will be published in March by Harper Collins.

Tickets for Saberi's talk are $20 for Sun Valley Center for the Arts members and $30 for nonmembers. To buy tickets, visit, call 726-9491 or stop by The Center in Ketchum.

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