The saga of the detained American journalist of Iranian origin, Roxana Saberi, in Tehran has finally come to an end. Saberi was sentenced to an eight year prison term, however following an appeal her sentence was reduced to a two-year suspended sentence and she was released from prison.
The saga ended peacefully this time. The young journalist, and former Miss North Dakota, was released after spending almost five months in prison charged with spying for a hostile state – a charge that carries the death penalty in Iran.
Roxana Saberi, without doubt, was luckier than the Canadian photojournalist of Iranian origin Zahra Kazemi who was also accused of espionage and died after she was beaten and tortured in the same prison where Roxana Saberi was held – Evin prison.
However, though the suffering of the young journalist, who was reportedly in Tehran writing a book on Iranian culture and the people of Iran, has come to an end, the questions about the purpose of her imprisonment and the price behind her release remain. Those knowledgeable of the history of the Iranian revolution know too well that Tehran has always excelled in playing the hostage game, whether since the Iran hostage crisis at the American embassy in Tehran or other incidents involving hostages.
The intervention of the Iranian president, and his open letter to the Iranian judiciary about the necessity of ensuring that the journalist receives a fair trial and ensuring her safety and freedoms, was a major indicator that Tehran was using this case politically to score points with the Americans regarding dialogue.
Of course, a major factor that really exerted pressure to release Roxana was the fact that her mother is of Japanese origin, which meant that the Japanese were called upon to intervene and mediate also, according to some Iranian newspapers. This means that this case gained a significant international dimension to put pressure on Tehran.
However, what was conspicuous in this matter was what Saberi’s lawyer Salah Nikbakht said after the Iranian appeals court ordered the journalist’s release. He said, “The verdict of the previous court has been quashed based on the argument that the United States cannot be considered a hostile state to Iran.”
If the United States is not a hostile state to Iran then what is the reason for all the slogans raised by the Iranian regime on all levels and in all gatherings? Why do Iran’s allies in our region boast that their alliance with Tehran is to stand against US ambitions?
We are not talking about different viewpoints or disputes here; we are talking about the reasons that the appeals court in Tehran accepted cancelling the former ruling that the journalist would spend eight years in prison charged of espionage.
What a strange issue. After all these slogans that the Iranians and their allies in the region have drowned us in with regards to the American enemy and its ambitions, its alliance with Zionist schemes, and America’s transformation into a charge in itself to be used against the opposition, the Iranian court comes out to say that America is not a hostile state!
Or is it the case that the Iranians deal with their allies in the region based on the following famous political adage: do as I say, not as I do?