Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American journalist was arrested in January for buying a bottle of wine in Iran. A Muslim theocracy, alcohol is banned in Iran. Ms. Saberi, 31, has lived in Iran for the last 6 years. I assume she was familiar with this law.
Unfortunately, Ms. Saberi's lack of judgment has placed her in the position of pawn between Iran and the U.S. Ms. Saberi is a dual citizen. She also had let her journalist credentials expire in Iran. President Obama recently reached out to the Iranian people by releasing a dvd with a speech to them, extolling the wishes of peace and kumbiya between our two countries. Obama has reached out to Ahmadinejad and that has fed the mad dictator's ego. The Bush administration had already begun talks with Iranian officials but not at the Presidential level. Obama will soon understand the validity of that approach. Making a loud point of doing things differently than the previous administration solely for the ability to say you are, is not effective foreign policy. It is schoolyard nonsense.
As a dual citizen, Saberi was an easy target. By letting her press credentials expire, she was committing a big mistake. Not to mention openly buying wine. Iran wants three Iranian s taken into custody in Iraq, in 2007, to be released. Iran claims these men are diplomats. The U.S. claims they have links to the Revolutionary Guards. Saberi is now a bargaining chip.
Saberi was tried in what is described in an unusually swift trial by in the Revolutionary Court as a security-related case. She received her verdict last Monday - eight years in prison for spying for the U.S.
Secretary of State Clinton said she was "deeply disappointed" and demanded Saberi's release. The Foreign Ministry originally charged her as working as a reporter without press credentials. Then the charge was changed to spying.
The justice system in Iran is controlled by Aytollah Khomeni, not Ahmadinejad. You'll remember Khomeni came into power in Iran due to the naive foreign policy of failed Democrat President Jimmy Carter. He, too, thought all he had to do was speak to those who wish us ill and everything would be worked out. He learned the hard way that foreign leaders in the middle east look at the world differently.
Saberi was raised in Fargo, N.D. She has worked for NPR, BBC, FOX News, and also here in Houston in the late 1990's. Her attorney vows to appeal the verdict and sentence.