International PEN is seriously concerned by the eight-year prison sentence handed down to Iranian-American journalist and writer Roxana Saberi, and seeks information regarding the charges brought against her. PEN believes that she may be held solely for the peaceful exercise of her right to free expression, which would violate Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory. If so, International PEN calls for her immediate and unconditional release.

Background Information

Roxana Saberi was arrested in late January 2009 after buying alcohol, which is prohibited in Iran. In early March, it was reported that her detention was linked to her allegedly “illegal and unauthorized” activities as a journalist in Iran since 2006, when her press credentials were revoked. However, on April 18, 2009, Saberi was sentenced behind closed doors by the Revolutionary Court in Tehran to eight years in prison on charges of “espionage.” Her defense announced they will file an appeal within the next 20 days. According to her father, Saberi had made confessions under pressure during her pre-trial detention. At her trial, she retracted these confessions, but they were still used against her in court. No information on the evidence of the charge of “espionage” has been made public.      

On April 19, 2009, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter to the public prosecutor asking him to ensure that Roxana Saberi is given the opportunity to exercise all legal rights. On April 20, 2009, Iran’s Head of the Judiciary Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi requested that the prosecutor reconsider the case “quickly and fairly.”

Roxana Saberi is currently being held in Ward 209 of Tehran’s Evin Prison. On April 20, 2009, it was reported that Saberi’s parents had been allowed to visit her in prison and that she appeared to be in good health.

Write A Letter

  • Expressing serious concern about the eight-year prison sentence handed down to Roxana Saberi, and seeking details of the charges brought against her;
  • Calling for her immediate and unconditional release if held in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is a signatory.

Send Your Letter To

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic
His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei
The Office of the Supreme Leader
Shoahada Street
Qom, Islamic Republic of Iran
Email: in[email protected] or [email protected]
Head of the Judiciary
His Excellency
Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi
Ministry of Justice, Park-e Shahr
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran

President H.E. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
The Presidency
Palestine Avenue,
Azerbaijan Intersection
Tehran, Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: Via Foreign Ministry: +98 21 6 674 790
(mark: "Please forward to H.E. President Ahmadinejad")
Email: [email protected]

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Iran in your country if possible.

Please check with PEN if sending appeals after May 20, 2009: ftw [at]