Saberi supporters pin hopes on appeal

Alexandra Finkel

An Iranian appeals court will review the case of Northwestern alumna Roxana Saberi next week, according to international news sources.

Saberi’s case “has been referred to an appeals court, where it is being studied,” Iranian judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi said to reporters Tuesday. A closed hearing is scheduled for next week, he said.

“Experts from the Bar Association, the Intelligence Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office have been invited to attend the court session,” Jamshidi said.

Saberi, Medill ’99, was charged with espionage last month and sentenced to eight years in prison. She was initially arrested in January for allegedly buying wine, although authorities later claimed she was taken into custody for reporting without press credentials. Saberi has worked as a freelance journalist in Iran since 2003, reporting for various international news outlets.

Saberi was taken to a hospital Monday after fasting for 15 days for her freedom, according to her family.

Iranian authorities have denied that she staged a hunger strike, however. Her lawyer, Abdolsamad Khorramshai, would not confirm.

The FreeRoxana campaign, composed of NU faculty, students, alumni and others, has organized its own fast on behalf of Saberi that began last Sunday and will continue until May 15.

Medill Prof. Jack Doppelt, who helped spearhead the FreeRoxana campaign, said he was pleased with the development but will pay close attention to the trial’s proceedings.

“There is still some question whether it’s Tuesday or some time next week,” he said. “It’s consistent with us not exactly getting clear messages through the channels available, whether it’s through Iran TV or otherwise.”

Although Jamshidi has yet to announce a specific date for the hearing, Roxana’s father Reza Saberi told reporters he thinks it will be Tuesday, May 12.