MONTREAL, April 28 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders members began
a hunger strike today in support of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi,
who has been sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran on a charge of spying
for the United States.
Saberi has herself been on hunger strike since 21 April and, according to
her father, Reza Saberi, who visited her in Tehran's Evin prison yesterday,
she is "determined and ready to go all the way." He said she appeared "much
weaker" as a result of going without food for a week.
"Roxana has been significantly weakened by these seven days of hunger
strike and we are very concerned for her health," Reporters Without Borders
said. "We are therefore symbolically taking over the hunger strike in a
gesture of solidarity, so that she no longer has to go on. Reporters Without
Borders activists began their hunger strike at 11 a.m. today in Paris."
Members of Reporters Without Borders have been stationed outside the Iran
Air office at 63, Avenue des Champs Elysées in Paris since 11 a.m. today.
"We appeal to all journalists who care about freedom and human rights in
Iran to join us, even if it is only for a few hours," the press freedom
organisation continued. "Roxana Saberi needs to know she is not alone, and
that she can now take a rest. We will not abandon her."
Seven journalists and two bloggers are currently imprisoned in Iran,
which was ranked 166th out of 173 countries in the 2008 Reporters Without
Borders press freedom index.
Timeline of Saberi case
- 31 January: Roxana Saberi is arrested.
- 1 March: The US public radio network NPR breaks the news of her arrest
(after being alerted by her father on 10 February).
- 2 March: Foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi says Saberi was
working "illegally" in Iran.
- 3 March: Judiciary spokesman Alireza Jamshidi says she has been
"arrested on the order of the Tehran revolutionary court and is being
held in Evin prison."
- 9 April: Saberi is charged with spying by deputy prosecutor Hassan Zare
Dehnavi. This charge is often used by the Iranian authorities to arrest
journalists and tighten the muzzle on freedom of expression.
- 13 April: Saberi is tried in a closed-door hearing on a charge of
spying for the United States.
- 18 April: Saberi is sentenced to eight years in prison.
- 20 April: Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi announces that she will
join the Saberi defence team.
- 21 April: Saberi begins her hunger strike.
- 25 April: Her lawyer file an appeal against her conviction.