Medill alum Roxana Saberi reportedly charged with espionage in Iran

Alexandra Finkel

Updated April 8, 4:35 p.m.

Iranian Authorities charged Roxana Saberi, Medill ’99, with espionage, Iran’s Press TV reported today. The 31-year-old freelance journalist has been detained for nearly three months at Evin prison near Tehran.

Saberi, who has been working in Iran since 2003, was arrested in late January, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. She was allegedly arrested after buying a bottle of wine, which is illegal in Iran.

Although Saberi has been charged, specifics are still unknown, said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator.

“No one has seen the charge sheet. The Iranian authorities have made a statement, but Roxana’s attorney has not even seen the actual paperwork,” Dayem said. “There is a gap in information here.”

Iran’s Press TV reported that Saberi had confessed to the charges.

“She conducted spying operations in the country by passing herself as a journalist. She has accepted all charges and we have documented the evidence in her legal case papers,” said Iran’s deputy prosecutor for security issues, Hassan Haddad, according to Press TV.

But Dayem is skeptical about the situation. Although Saberi’s press credentials were revoked in 2006, she has been openly working and filing stories since then.

“I don’t see how the Iranian authorities were previously unaware of this-the government has people working closely with all foreign journalists so the idea that they just found out about her is bogus,” he said. “One wonders why she was arrested in January if it was for filing news stories without proper accreditation. Why would it take two-plus years to make that step?”

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