Sunday, May 3, 2009

On World Press Freedom Day, Saberi Continues Hunger Strike, Iranians Receive Petition

Reporters Sans Frontières marked World Press Freedom Day by handing in a petition for Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi’s release at the Iranian embassy in Paris. Sentenced to eight years in prison in Tehran on a charge of spying for the United States, Saberi is now on the 13th day of a hunger strike, according to Reporters Sans Frontières.

Saberi was admitted to the Evin prison hospital on May 1 because she had stopped taking liquids. “She is very weak, but she is still determined to go all the way,” her father, Reza Saberi, told Reporters Sans Frontières today.

Four members of Reporters Sans Frontières, including its secretary-general, Jean-François Julliard, began a hunger strike on April 28 in Paris in solidarity with Saberi. As it symbolically took over her protest in this manner, Reporters Sans Frontières urged Saberi to end her own hunger strike. “She needs to know she is not alone,” the press freedom organization has repeatedly said.

“We are going to continue this protest in other forms,” Reporters Sans Frontières today. “Saberi has not committed any crime and must be released without delay. The Iranian president must not use this young woman for his election campaign or as a bargaining chip in his relations with Europe or the United States.”

Members of Reporters Sans Frontières have been stationed outside the Iran Air office in Paris, located at 63 Avenue des Champs-Elysées, since 11 a.m. on April 28, handing out leaflets and collecting signatures. The protest intensified all week, spreading to London, New York, Washington, Madrid and Brussels. In Paris, more than 800 people signed the petition for Saberi’s release.

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