A political prisoner caught in the middle of a dramatic political struggle between Iran and the U.S., Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi captured the attention of the world when reports surfaced of her imprisonment in Iran. Abducted by four men early one morning in January 2009 and placed in solitary confinement, Ms. Saberi, who was working as a freelance journalist in Tehran, contributing to NPR and the BBC among others, was falsely accused of spying for the United States. Ms. Saberi, a former Miss North Dakota, who led an all-American life before moving to Iran was sentenced to eight years in prison. Her battle for freedom would last 100 days before an appeals court released her following an international uproar. In the midst of reaching out to Iran to start a dialogue after decades of political deadlock, the Obama administration harshly criticized Iran over her imprisonment and there was speculation that Iranian President Ahmadinejad intervened on her behalf as a diplomatic overture.
For the past few years, she has been giving presentations about human rights at schools, conferences, and rallies. She has spoken at venues including The New York Times Center, The National Press Club, Simmons Leadership Conference, Los Angeles Times book festival, Northwestern University, UCLA, University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth (Commencement Speaker 2012), the Overseas Press Club of America, World Affairs councils, and Amnesty International. She also took part in a Syracuse University panel about Shifting the Global Consciousness with H.H. The Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace laureates Shirin Ebadi and Mohamad El Baradei, and Martin Luther King III.
On The Streets of Tehran
From Egypt to Libya and Syria to Iran, uprisings have been shaking the Middle East and the rest of the world. The nuclear standoff between Tehran and the West is reaching a climax that could result in war and change the course of world events. News media help us witness these developments, but how much do we know about the people and societies behind them? Living and working in Iran for six years, Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi delved beyond the headlines to discover the unique perspectives of the Iranian people by seeing Iran through their eyes. She met progressive students protesting for change and their classmates who beat them into silence, as well as poor prostitutes living in a roach-infested shack and Iranians eating caviar in penthouses. Saberi sheds light on women’s and minorities’ rights in Iran, the country’s economic woes, its cultural scene, and underground parties, as well as the situation of human rights in Iran and what it means for democracy, the Middle East, and the world.
Courage Under Fire
Abducted and placed in solitary confinement in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison, Ms. Saberi was falsely accused of espionage and sentenced to 8 years in prison. She was released after 100 days, following an international outcry. Ms. Saberi tells the dramatic account of her imprisonment and stories of the Iranians she met during her six years living and reporting in Iran. She also shares the timeless and universal messages she learned from her fellow women political prisoners, who taught her how to find meaning in suffering, turn adversities into opportunities, and stay true to one’s principles. During her interview with Diane Sawyer, Ms. Saberi said she realized, "Do what you think is right, even if you suffer for it. In the end you will be victorious." She has worked, written, and lectured extensively on human rights issues and the ever-changing landscape of Iranian politics since her release in 2009.
Ms. Saberi has spoken across the United States and has traveled to South America, Europe, and the Middle East to speak with the public, media, and government officials about human rights violations in Iran.
Ms. Saberi's gripping memoir of her experiences in Iran, Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran, was released in March 2010. The book has been published in Italian, Dutch, Danish, German, and Farsi, and it will soon be released in Spanish, Kurdish, Polish and Turkish. She is now working on her second book about Iran.
She has received the Medill Medal of Courage, the Ilaria Alpi Freedom of the Press Award, the NCAA Award of Valor, a POMED (Project for Middle East Democracy) Award, and an East-West Freedom Award from the Levantine Cultural Center. She was named one of Jaycees’ 2011 Ten Outstanding Young Americans and was honored by the Japanese American Citizens League as an “Outstanding Woman.” In September 2011, she was chosen as a “commended” artist for the Freedom to Create Main Prize. In May 2014, she was awarded the Sent Forth Award from her alma mater Concordia College.
View her website at www.roxanasaberi.com.
Ms. Saberi's articles on human rights have been published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, and Chicago Tribune. She has also been interviewed by organizations such as FOX News, ABC, NBC, CBS, BBC, CNN, PRI, NPR, and C-SPAN, as well as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.