The US State Department has taken the unusual step of asking the Iranian government to clarify Roxana Saberi’s status, according to an article on the National Press Photographers Association website.
Saberi has been held by Iranian authorities for about a month and this week was confirmed by Iran to be in the notorious Evin prison north of Tehran.
The State Department’s request to Iran for help is unusual, as the U.S. does not have diplomatic relations with Iran since they were broken off in 1980 after militant Iranian students occupied the U.S. Embasy in Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days. Since then communications between the two countries have been mediated by the Swiss, and the inquiry for information about Saberi by the State Department today was also done with the Swiss Embassy in Iran.
“If Ms. Saberi is being detained by Iranian authories, we urge the government of Iran to provide access to legal advice, a transparent judicial process, and consular access for a Swiss consular official,” State Department spokesperson Gordon Duguid said today in Washington.