Update: As of Wednesday, May 6, the number of participants had reached 340. Roxana quit her personal fast on Monday, May 4.
For immediate release
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Contact: Alexis Grant
FreeRoxana campaign member
Web site: freeroxana.net
More than 300 people from across the country and around the world have joined fasts in support of Roxana Saberi, the Iranian-American journalist jailed as a spy in Tehran.
The hunger strike began on Sunday, May 3, World Press Freedom Day. Supporters are going hungry in 24-hour shifts in dozens of states and in countries including Iran, Egypt, New Zealand, Italy, England and Kenya. Many joined the cause as word spread through Twitter, Facebook, news stories and word of mouth.
“This widespread participation shows that people around the world really care about Roxana and believe she should be freed,” said Alexis Grant, a FreeRoxana campaign member who helped organize the hunger strike. “We have far more volunteers than I expected, and the sign-ups are still coming in.”
Roxana’s parents told her about the hunger strike when about 150 people had signed up.
UPDATE: The Associated Press is reporting today – 5/5 – that an Iranian appeals court will hear Roxana’s case next week.
Roxana began a hunger strike of her own on April 21 to demand her freedom. A former star soccer player, the North Dakota native is strong, healthy and determined – but she needs to preserve her strength in Iran ’s notorious Evin prison.
That’s why the FreeRoxana campaign initiated a fluids-only hunger strike, so Roxana can end her fast. The campaign’s 12-day staggered strike matches Roxana’s personal fast.
To see a list of volunteers fasting each day and their location, click here.
BACKGROUND: Roxana, 32, lived in Iran for six years, working as a journalist, writing a book and studying at a university before she was arrested on Jan. 31. First told she was in prison for buying a bottle of wine, she was later accused of working as a journalist without a press pass – and then, just before her closed-door trial, charged with espionage.
One week into Roxana’s hunger strike – which the Iranian authorities deny is real, although her father says she has lost 10 pounds – Reporters Without Borders began a hunger strike in solidarity. Now, the FreeRoxana Campaign expands that effort.
ABOUT FREEROXANA: A joint effort by members of the Asian American Journalists Association; professors, students and alumni of Northwestern University are Medill School of Journalism, Roxana’s alma mater; and other Roxana friends and supporters.