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Roxana Saberi: Surviving Iranian jail
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Roxana Saberi: Hunger strike, release and the release of a book


Roxana Saberi's book on her imprisonement © SMB
Roxana Saberi's book on her imprisonement © SMB

Under growing international pressure from both US and Japanese officials, Saberi went on hunger strike for two weeks – an extreme tactic to underpin her claim of innocence. Initially sentenced to eight-years in prison for espionage, Saberi’s sentence was reduced by an appeals court to a two-year suspended sentence for “possession of classified information” – an accusation Saberi also denies.

Soon after her return to the US, she started writing her book, not the one she set out to write but, instead, a memoire of her time in Iranian prison. "It is almost tragic, but yes, the original book was never published." She says.

Rather than her own research, her mind is now pre-occupied with her former cellmates. "The international attention has helped me and liberated me.” Saberi says, “I want to raise awareness for those people I left behind who have become my friends and who are close to my heart."

When Saberi was 19 years old, she was chosen as Miss Dakota and came among the top 10 finalists of Miss America in 1998. Back then, she said she wanted to encourage others to appreciate cultural differences - a conviction she still holds.

Asked if her attitude towards Iran has changed after her time in prison, she strongly objects. "Many ordinary Iranians apologized to me. I still feel the same about the Iranian people. They were not the one who did this to me. And eventually, those democratic forces will win and Iran will be a free country."

After her book tour, Saberi is eager to take a break and "just rest for a while." Eventually, she wants to take up work again as a journalist: "And then I hope I will finish the book that I originally wanted to write: about Iran and its wonderful people."


Shila Meyer Behjat
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