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U.S. journalist arrested in Iran, family says

March 02, 2009|Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. — A U.S. journalist has been arrested in Iran, her father said Sunday. He said she told him in a brief phone call that she was detained after buying a bottle of wine.

Roxana Saberi, 31, has not been heard from since Feb. 10, her father, Reza, told the Associated Press on Sunday.

"We haven't heard anything," he said. The family decided to go public, he said, "because we wanted to get some information."

Officials in Iran have not publicly confirmed the arrest. A duty officer at the U.S. State Department said Sunday that officials were looking into an Associated Press request for information on the case.

Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized Iran for arresting journalists and suppressing freedom of speech. The government has arrested several Iranian Americans in the last few years, citing alleged attempts to overthrow its Islamic regime.

The most high-profile case came in 2007, when Iran arrested four Iranian Americans, including scholar Haleh Esfandiari. The four were imprisoned or had their passports confiscated for several months until they were released and allowed to return to the U.S.

Roxana Saberi, a freelance journalist who has reported for National Public Radio, has lived in Iran for six years.

Her father said that in her last phone call, she told him she was arrested after buying a bottle of wine.

Buying and selling alcohol is illegal in Iran.

A few minutes later, her father said, she called again and asked, "Please don't do anything because they'll release me in two days." He told reporters that she had been detained 10 days by that point.

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