Roxana Saberi, for those who do not know, is an NPR journalist from Iran. She has been detained on charges of spying since January of this year, and she has just been sentenced to eight years in prison. Theories abound, as the linked New York Times stories discusses; it is possible that she was sentenced thanks to the influence of radicals in the Iranian government who do not want to normalize relations with the United States. It is also possible that the arrest is in retaliation for the arrest of three Iranian “diplomats” the United States arrested in Iraq in 2007. Saberi’s case is not the first in which Iranians with dual citizenship have found themselves being harassed and persecuted by the Islamic regime, so whatever the case, the arrest should leave us tremendously concerned and outraged.
This episode reinforces my belief that in any talks with Iran, we ought to ensure that all issues are on the table for discussion, including human rights, so as to place as much international pressure on the Islamic regime as possible in order to engender sociopolitical and cultural liberalization within the country. Such liberalization is sorely needed, as Saberi’s case makes clear. The regime will not profit from this behavior; it is making Iran an outcast amongst countries, and specifically, it is working to prevent members of the Iranian diaspora from returning to Iran and lending their talents to the rebuilding of the country.
I have written and said more times than I can count that the Iranian people are better than their government, and that by not living up to the example the Iranian people have historically set, their government continues to undermine them and let them down. The case of Roxana Saberi only reinforces that belief, and my disappointment.