Bienen works to release NU alumna detained in Iran

Alexandra Finkel

Northwestern President Henry Bienen sent letters Friday to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asking for their support and continued vigilance in fighting for the release of NU alumna Roxana Saberi from Iran.

Saberi, Medill ’99, was charged with espionage last week in Iran and has been detained outside of Tehran since late January. The freelance journalist has been working in Iran since 2003, and although her press credentials were revoked in 2006, she has been openly reporting and filing stories for BBC, NPR and Fox News since then.

Bienen’s letters urged Sen. Durbin and Secretary Clinton to push for Saberi’s release.

“The U.S. State Department has called the espionage charge against her baseless and asked for her release,” Bienen wrote. “Northwestern very much appreciates the efforts of the State Department and asks that you provide whatever additional support you can to bring about her safe return.”

Both letters were posted on www.Freeroxana.net, a Web site created in March by Keith Kamisugi, the director of communications for the Equal Justice Society.

“Back then it seemed like an issue that deserved some central repository of information,” Kamisugi said. “I was hoping to build something that would raise awareness about the situation.”

Medill graduate student Joseph Freeman currently manages the Web site. Freeman became interested in the initiative when he took Global Journalism last quarter with Medill Prof. Loren Ghiglione, who was already involved in Medill’s efforts to aid Saberi and her family.

“My role as student representative is to keep the site fresh and update it with news about Saberi’s case from around the world,” Freeman said.