May 14, 2009
Roxana Saberi, who had been held in Iran, has been freed. (National Press Photographers Association/Courtesy Agence France-Presse)

Roxana Saberi, who had been held in Iran, has been freed. (National Press Photographers Association/Courtesy Agence France-Presse)

U.S. Journalist Freed from Iranian Prison

Roxana Saberi, the Iranian-American journalist who had been jailed in Iran for three months, was released from Tehran’s Evin Prison May 11.

Saberi had been jailed since Jan. 31, initially for buying alcohol and then on charges of spying for the United States. She was sentenced to eight years in prison in April and recently held a two-week hunger strike in protest. On May 10, the charges and her sentence were reduced on appeal.

Saberi and her family were expected to return to the United States after her release. Born in the United States, Saberi moved to Iran six years ago, where she was a freelance reporter for National Public Radio and the BBC. In 2006, she began work on a book about Iran, her father said.

As Saberi returned to freedom, in North Korea, two U.S. journalists are in jail and face trial on June 4.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, working for San Francisco-based Current TV, were arrested near the Chinese border by North Korean authorities March 17. The women will be tried in North Korea's highest court, the Central Court, an indication of the serious nature of the case.

A statement released from the state-run Korean Central News Agency did not detail the charges they face, but previously, they were accused of entering North Korea illegally and being hostile to the state. Those charges could mean up to 10 years in prison. Ling and Lee were working on a story about North Koreans fleeing their country.

The Committee to Protect Journalists, while celebrating news of Saberi’s release, notes that an estimated 125 journalists remain jailed around the world.

A Day to Remember

By Patty Rhule, Newseum projects editor

In 1993, the United Nations declared May 3 World Press Freedom Day, to celebrate press freedom and to honor journalists who died performing their jobs.

Each spring, Freedom House, a nonprofit group that promotes freedom and democracy, rates press freedom in 194 countries and territories. In Iran and North Korea, where U.S. reporters are detained, the press is considered "not free."

The Newseum’s 22-foot World Press Freedom map, located in the Time Warner World News Gallery, has been updated to reflect the latest rankings. Artifacts from journalists who have been detained and killed for their work are also displayed there.

The Newseum’s Journalists Memorial honors the men and women who died while reporting the news.

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