The Iranian government has detained another American journalist, Roxana Saberi of NPR. I was waiting to post on this in the event that a concerted effort to free her got spun up, but I’m not seeing anything as yet, so I thought I’d just relate the news.
I met Ms. Saberi once. We were both panelists at a discussion of Iran policy about two years ago, in front of a group of several hundred high school students who were on some sort of DC visit. I found her to be reserved in manner, judicious in thought, and entirely unthreatening. It is unfortunate that the Iranian government does not acknowledge this.
In any case, she should be freed immediately. The Iranian government gets nothing from this sort of thing other than bad press, as it surely recognized when it pointlessly detained and ultimately released Haleh Esfandiari less than two years ago. The Iranians may be using Saberi to wind up (or vent) nationalism in the advent of the June elections, but overall you’d think the Iranian government had more important matters to attend to.
Let her go.
UPDATE: I’m reminded that it isn’t just Saberi that the Iranians have detained. Two Iranian doctors working to prevent HIV have apparently been sent to prison on the grounds that they were “involved in provoking street demonstrations and ethnic unrest in different parts of the country.”You’d think if the Iranians were really concerned about ethnic unrest in different parts of their country, they’d refrain from doing things like having state-run newspapers publish cartoons representing Azeris as cockroaches.