There is a female journalist that has been imprisoned in Iran and sentenced to 8 years for alleged espionage. Roxana Saberi had her press card revoked by the Iranian Government in 2006 and continued to report from Iran and was arrested in January of 2009.
Her story is all over NPR which I listen to religiously. Roxana’s father was interviewed by Neal Conan last night and he said that his daughter had been told if she said certain things, admitted to certain things, she would be released and she was not. He also said that she had been “pressured” into admitting things that had not happened. He said she did not look good, had lost weight and might have also been put under undue “stress” during her incarceration. She had mentioned a hunger strike which her parents have tried to talk her out of.
There has been so much media attention with regard to this story. There has been collective American outrage at a government so corrupt that an Iranian/American woman can be sentenced to 8 years for a crime that she is not guilty of with no chance or defending herself on American soil or in an American court system. There has been outrage that she was targeted for nothing else than being an Iranian/American and the charges have been fabricated to teach Americans a lesson. There is talk that she is not guilty of what she has been charged with, she is only guilty of having been an American woman traveling in Iran and expecting the liberties American women are given in this country.
I feel for her parents and the cost this must be to them, traveling to the Middle East and having to find lodging and shelter and food while this goes on. Her parents have to somehow balance their jobs, homes, careers, lifestyles between two countries while this situation escalates. The hope they must be given by the Iranian defenders and Iranian diplomats who side with them and the despair they feel each time they visit their daughter must be draining. They must be exhausted emotionally and physically since this all began in January.
My sister is in prison. She was sentenced to 18 years for a crime that while she concealed from the authorities for 7 or 8 years, she did not mastermind or commit. She is an accessory. She was charged with aggravated murder. I know my sister, she is guilty of having married a stupid, careless and sloppy man, a sociopath if you will, but she is not a murderer. The way my mother knows she will be in heaven someday is the way I know my sister is not a murderer. I feel it in my gut and in my heart. Nonetheless, she rots in prison for 18 years for a crime she concealed.
We cry “outrage” and “corruption” when something happens like what has happened to Roxana Saberi but when my sister was arrested, she was “pressured” into signing a full confession before talking to an attorney. She was told repeatedly by her attorneys during the first 6 months she was incarcerated that she would get out of jail. She was asked to say things about her husband that wasn’t true in order to get a better “deal”. She did everything she was asked only to have her lawyers bail on her at the last minute for fear of being found out and disbarred. She did everything she was asked to and more. In exchange for doing everything she was told to do and asked to do, she was sentenced to 18 years in prison with no chance of parole. I must not forget to mention that being in jail and prison is “stressful” in many different ways.
The strain this has put on our family is untold. The stress and strain and cost that it places on the persons responsible for transporting her children to and from the prison is extensive. The emotional roller coaster that everyone goes through each time there is a visit scheduled, trip made, and visits attended and then having to part is excruciating. The loss of parents and grandparents and the loss of a collective family support I once had is real. Then there is the cost of maintaining a family member while incarcerated which can be exorbitant. Families must pay for phone calls, spending money of the person in prison, the books sent, the food items purchased through the canteen, the flights and hotels and gas money to visit the family member, the list goes on. This of course does not even begin to address the emotional and mental stress and strain a family must endure within itself during this journey.
Today, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton called for a reexamination of the case against Roxana which would lead to her speedy release. She is calling for an Iranian fair review of the case in which justice would prevail and Roxana would be able to come home. As I listened to Mrs. Clinton stridently calling for justice, I had to turn off the radio before I threw it on the floor and kicked it into thousands of tiny pieces.
Where my sister’s Hilary Clinton? Where are her reexamination, justice and speedy release? Why has there been no outcry of public outrage for her?
I pray for Roxana Saberi and I pray for my sister. I wish them both the best of luck but if the Iranian judicial system is anything like the American one, she doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.