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AFTRA Urges President Obama to Use 'Full Force' on Behalf of Roxana

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Roberta Reardon, National President of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, sent the following letter today to President Barack Obama urging him to pressure the Iranian government to expedite a review of the case against American journalist Roxana Saberi who was convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison by an Iranian court last week. President Reardon sent a copy of the letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Dear President Obama:

On behalf of the more than 70,000 members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists—the people who entertain and inform America—whom I represent as AFTRA National President, I urge you to please use the full force of your administration to pressure the government of Iran to overturn the egregious eight-year prison sentence of American journalist Roxana Saberi imposed on her last week by an Iranian court.

Ms. Saberi is a professional journalist who has worked for a number of highly-respected news organizations around the world, including the BBC, and whose work has been broadcast across the country on NPR and other national news outlets. Her education and professional career are characterized by an unfailing commitment to excellence, accuracy, respect for others, and an open-minded fairness in reporting a story.

She is an American citizen who has chosen to live in Iran to pursue her career, further her education, and finish her work. Although not an AFTRA member, Ms. Saberi is an esteemed journalist who reported to the world the stories of people unable to make their own voices heard. She is a reporter who told the truth, and in doing so, angered the powerful elite.

We must protect those who speak truth to power, not punish them. I and my fellow AFTRA members are concerned about Ms. Saberi’s well-being, and we are deeply troubled by what appears to be a grave miscarriage of justice and a violation of her rights as an American citizen living and working abroad.

As the National President of AFTRA, the union that represents the voices and faces of professional broadcast journalists around the nation, I urge your administration to request that the Iranian government expedite a formal review of Ms. Saberi’s case and to release and return her to the United States as soon as possible.

I appreciate your attention to the concerns of AFTRA members, and I am available to speak with you at your convenience about this very serious matter.

In solidarity,

Roberta Reardon National President AFTRA

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