An American journalist jailed by Iran on charges of spying for the United States “is in bad condition,” her father said Monday, almost a week after she went on hunger strike.
Reza Saberi said he and his wife Akiko visited their daughter Roxana in Tehran’s Evin jail on Sunday, taking flowers for her 32nd birthday.
“She is very, very weak and frail … she is in a bad condition. She can hardly stand up,” he told Reuters. “I’m worried about her health. I’m worried about her life.”
The 68-year-old said he pleaded with her to stop the hunger strike, but she resisted during the 20-minute visit.
Read the rest from the Associated Press
For months, the state-owned media in the Islamic Republic in Iran has been whipping up frenzy about alleged plots to topple the regime. This was supposed to happen through a “velvet revolution,” a “Freemason conspiracy,” or “soft overthrow.”
Last week, that frenzy found a new face: that of Roxana Saberi, a 31-year old former Miss North Dakota who has been in Tehran for years, working on and off as a reporter for Western media. Originally arrested on a charge of lacking a labor permit, she soon was transformed into a Mata Hari figure, a devious “spy” helping the American “Great Satan” undermine the world’s first “truly Islamic system” since the Prophet’s days in the 7th century. Last week a kangaroo court sentenced her to eight years in Tehran’s dreaded Evin Prison.
By Amir Taheri
Saberi is an ideal face for the sinister conspiracy campaign that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad regards as essential to ensure his re-election in June.
To start with, Saberi is both an insider and an outsider. Her father is an Iranian who has lived in the United States since the revolution. Her mother is Japanese. She herself was born an American but was recently engaged to marry Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi.
Saberi is also a reporter, a profession the Islamist regime in Tehran hates. Since the creation of the Islamic Republic, by some counts, more than half of all Iranian journalists have spent some time in prison. According to Shamsul Waezin, himself a pro-regime journalist for years before joining the opposition, going to prison is part of a reporter’s ordinary routine.
Next, and perhaps most significantly, Saberi is a woman.
The Khomeinist regime has always regarded women as one of its three worst enemies, the other two being Jews and Americans. The first demonstration against Khomeinism consisted entirely of women, and was held on International Women’s Day, March 8, 1979 in Tehran, less than four weeks after the mullahs had seized power. Mrs. Shirin Ebadi, the first Iranian awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, has emerged as one of the most hated figures of the regime’s loyal opposition. Since last January, scores of women fighting for women’s rights have been arrested and sentenced to varying terms of imprisonment.
No one knows what might happen to Saberi. She may be used as a bargaining chip in talks with the Obama administration. Her release would enable Ahmadinejad to claim that he has responded to Obama’s concessions without having to give way on bigger issues such as Tehran’s nuclear project.
But if the fate of some women who shared some of her attributes is an indication, the prospect do not looks promising.