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Next Steps Unclear for Jailed U.S. Journalist in Iran

Iran's judiciary ordered an investigation Monday into the case of U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi, who faces a prison sentence in Iran on espionage charges. Analysts and journalists, including NPR CEO Vivian Schiller, assess what may be next for Saberi.

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    And for more on Roxana Saberi's case, we turn to Vivian Schiller, the president and CEO of NPR; Karim Sadjadpour, an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; and Haleh Esfandiari, the director of the Middle East program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. In 2007, she was held in solitary confinement in Iran's Evin Prison for more than 100 days. She and Mr. Sadjadpour hold dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship.

    And welcome to you all.

    Let me begin with you, Vivian Schiller. What is the latest on Roxana Saberi's status and what conditions she's being held?

  • VIVIAN SCHILLER, National Public Radio CEO:

    Well, her father was able to — both her parents, who have been in Tehran for the last few weeks and have said they are staying until they can take their daughter home, have seen her recently.

    They said she is getting food, but she's not eating, and they're worried about both her mental and physical health. She has threatened a hunger strike; her parents are trying to talk her out of that. So we are quite concerned about her condition.


    Tell us about her as a reporter. What kind of reports did she file? Was there anything that you think in retrospect could have made her a target?


    It's hard to imagine that. She has been in Iran for over six years. She has been reporting. She's done a lot of reporting for us, as well as for other news outlets, as you mentioned in the set-up piece, for the BBC.

    And her pieces have ranged from just ordinary statements coming out of the president to stories about Islamic dress, about women being banned from men soccer games. In fact, her last report for us was just 48 hours before she was arrested, but it was a very run-of-the-mill story reporting on Ahmadinejad's reaction to Obama's overtures to Iran.


    His New Year's Day message.


    Yes. Actually, it was on January 28th when he had said we are willing to re-engage with Iran if they will unclench their fist.