Sunday, May 31, 2009

Roxana Saberi Forced into False Spy Confession

Via VOA News -

U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi is back home after an Iranian appeals court May 11 cut her prison sentence to a suspended two-year term. Saberi had been held in Tehran's Evin prison since January after she was arrested for working in Iran without valid press credentials. She was later accused of spying and convicted in a closed-door trial that her father said lasted less than an hour. Saberi, who gave Voice of America an exclusive Farsi interview, talked about the ordeal in a TV broadcast to Iran over the Persian News Network.

Since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, human rights organizations and foreign governments have accused Iran of holding, and in some cases, mistreating political prisoners. Iran denies the practice.

Saberi said she was released only after she falsely confessed that she was a US spy. "They promise to release you if you confess. One thing they do is they record the confession and they video recorded my confession," Saberi said. "Now I want to say here that if one day they decide to show that video, it's all a lie," she said.

Saberi said she was not physically tortured in the prison but she was always under tremendous mental pressure.

"At first I was in solitary for two weeks," she explained. "Then they transferred me to a jail with three, four other women who changed constantly. But they were all political prisoners in ward 209 of the prison," she said.

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