Saturday, April 18, 2009

Iran Sentences American Journalist to 8 Years in Prison

Roxana Saberi has been sentenced to eight years in prison by an Iranian court for espionage.

Saberi was arrested in January and two months later was charged with espionage. She went on trial less than a week ago.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was "deeply disappointed" with the verdict.

North Dakota's two Democratic Senators were far more blunt in their assessment. Senator Kent Conrad called the verdict "preposterous" and the charges "baseless." Senator Bryan Dorgan called the verdict "a shocking miscarriage of justice."

Saberi was born and raised in North Dakota.

Evin Prison is not a good place for Roxana Saberi or anyone else to be.

It was only last month when Iranian blogger Omidreza Mirsayafi died in Evin Prison. The Iranians claim he committed suicide. Mirsayafi had been sentenced to 30 months in prison for insulting the late Ayatollah Khomeinei and the Ayatollah Khamenei.

Don't think that being a journalist with ties to another country will be of any help to Saberi. In 2003, Zahra Kazemi an Iranian photojournalist living in Montreal was arrested for taking pictures outside Evin Prison. She soon found herself inside Evin Prison where she was raped, flogged and murdered.

When former Iranian President Mohammed Khatami spoke at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in September 2006, he blamed Kazemi's family for her fate:

Maybe if the relatives of Kazemi had not made into such a big political issue it could have been resolved a lot quicker and more to their liking.

President Obama has stated he will meet with Iran's leaders without precondition. But if there was ever a precondition that needed to met this is surely it. If President Obama is willing to meet with President Ahmadinejad and the Mullahs while Saberi languishes in prison he will have abdicated his constitutional duties in protecting American citizens abroad.

Can't anyone see that Saberi's arrest, which took place less than two weeks after Obama took office, is nothing more than Iran testing Obama to see if he is willing to sacrifice her life in order to make amends with them?

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