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Roxana Saberi is being held at Tehran's Evin prison

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Roxana Saberi’s detention is one of the lead stories on the Committee to Protect Journalists site today. According to international news reports, a spokesman for Iran’s judiciary said at a press conference today that freelance Saberi is being held at Tehran’s Evin prison, where political prisoners are routinely detained.

According to the CPJ report:

Detained in late January, Saberi has not had access to an attorney, and has been incommunicado for over a month. Reuters quoted Alireza Jamshidi as saying that Saberi is being held based on a writ “issued by the revolutionary court.” He added that he did not “know anything about the charges against her.” Iran’s Islamic revolutionary courts are in essence military tribunals presided over by a single judge whose decisions cannot be appealed.

A journalist held in the notorious Evin prison in 2003 died while in custody. Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died after being detained in connection with pictures she had taken during a student protest in Tehran.

“We are appalled that the Iranian government is holding Roxana Saberi without charge,” said CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Mohamed Abdel Dayem. “We are troubled that the writ for her arrest was issued by a revolutionary court, and we fear that she will be tried by one. They lack even the most elementary guarantees of due process. We call for the Iranian government to explain why Saberi is being held and to give her access to a lawyer or release her immediately.”

Revolutionary courts, in existence since 1979, are intended to try national security, espionage, terrorism, and drug-trafficking cases. Proceedings are usually closed, and defendants are frequently made to appear in court without legal counsel.

CPJ’s first report on March 2, said that Saberi, 31, was detained in late January and has not been heard from since, except when she placed a two-minute call to her father from an unknown location on February 10 to tell him that she had been arrested for buying wine, her father, Reza Saberi, told CPJ from his home in North Dakota. Saberi called back 10 minutes later, urging her father not to contact the press, adding that she would be released within days, according to her father and numerous news reports. Her father did not contact the press until Saturday.

Written by Keith Kamisugi

March 4, 2009 at 2:12 am

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