Poised and thoughtful, Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi came to VOA this past week for her first and only Farsi-language interview since returning to the United States after being detained in Iran.
In the interview with VOA’s Persian News Network (PNN), Saberi says she was accused of spying and admits she confessed. But she says it was a forced confession while she was under what she calls “extreme psychological pressure.” She says because she was a journalist and was working on a book, Iranian authorities were suspicious of her:
"From the outset, I was charged with being ‘threat to national security’, which, as you know, its definition in Iran can be very extensive. Maybe even what viewers are doing, watching your show [VOA’s PNN] via satellite, fits one of those definitions and they too are a threat to national security. Since I’m a dual citizen, American and Iranian, and was a journalist and was working on a book, they were suspicious of me. I wanted to write a book about Iran’s society and depict the positive aspect of Iran, that Iranians have a rich history and culture. This was for foreigners, but those who interrogated me at the beginning said to me that ‘you are a spy.’ I want to say that most people know that I’m not a spy, but for those who don’t know, I want to say that I am not a spy, never was and never will be."
The 32-year old journalist spent nearly four months in a jail in Tehran. But an Iranian court ordered her release following an international outcry.
She says despite her ordeal, she hopes to return to Iran:
“I went to Iran 6 years ago. I didn’t speak Farsi and wanted to learn it. My father is Iranian and I wanted to see my Iranian homeland and I wanted to do some work there. I had not intended to stay that long, but it proved so attractive to me that I decided to stay. I realized what a beautiful culture, what hospitable and kind people Iranians are. I was so excited in Iran that every time I traveled overseas, I missed the country and wanted to return as soon as possible… I would definitely love to return to Iran someday.”
Stories about the Saberi interview are on VOANews.com, including a full transcript translated into English