Inspirational women

Roxana Saberi

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Roxana Saberi after her release on 11 May 2009 © Harper Collins - Roxana Saberi
Roxana Saberi after her release on 11 May 2009 © Harper Collins

It has been one year since American journalist, Roxana Saberi, 32, was released from prison in Iran, her home for over five years.

Now safely back in Fargo, North Dakota, Roxana feels an obligation to share what she went through during her 100 days of captivity in Iran's notorious Evin Prison.

"Almost every day, I am still grateful for being free and back with my family and friends." she tells "But I worry about the ones I left behind. I feel obliged to make their voices heard, for them to eventually get the attention I got", Saberi explains. During her imprisonment, Saberi felt deeply touched by her cellmates' courage. It’s their will power that still inspires her to rally for their release.

Saberi moved to Iran in 2003, in late January of 2009 she suddenly disappeared. She’d been working as a freelance journalist and researcher in Iran's capital Tehran where she had also been a regular contributor of the BBC. Born and raised in the US by an Iranian father and a Japanese mother, Saberi had come to Iran six years earlier to work and to write a book about Iranian life and contemporary culture.

After two weeks without any information, her parents back in the US received a call confirming her arrest. Her parents were told she’d been arrested for buying a bottle of wine. This was not the case: Roxana Saberi was eventually accused of spying for the US government, using her book as a cover.

Saberi found herself in solitary confinement in the notorious Evin prison. There, she was subjected hours of harsh and manipulating interrogations.  "I had heard accounts of inmates being physically tortured in Evin Prison.", she remembers. "They did not physically torture me but psychologically they did."

Her captors threatened her with life in prison and even with the death penalty. "I told the guards 'read what I have written, it is not harmful, it’s the contrary!’ But they kept on saying it was cover for US espionage."

Shila Meyer-Behjat


Shila Meyer Behjat
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