Thursday, March 19, 2009

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The father of imprisoned Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi says she is upset and frustrated that she is still being held in Iran, where she may be in prison for at least two more weeks while the government shuts down for the Iranian New Year.

“Roxana doesn’t feel very well,” Saberi’s father, Reza, said Wednesday from his home in Fargo. “She’s very upset, frustrated and disappointed.”

Reza Saberi said he is worried the ordeal is taking a toll on his daughter’s health. He said he plans to write a letter to Iran’s supreme leader and work with members of the Japanese Embassy.

“Her mother is Japanese and the Japanese have good relations with Iran,” Saberi said. “We’ll see what they can do. All of this will take time.”

Iranian authorities say Roxana Saberi was arrested for working as a journalist after the government revoked her press credentials. Reza Saberi said his daughter was doing mostly feature stories and was not writing about any government business.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and North Dakota’s congressional delegation have appealed for Saberi’s release. Executives of major news organizations have demanded that Iran specify how she allegedly broke the law, and that the country allow an outside group to evaluate her health and living conditions.

Roxana Saberi, 31, grew up in Fargo. She is a freelance journalist who has worked for National Public Radio, the British Broadcasting Corp. and other news organizations.

Reza Saberi said he had hoped for a breakthrough before the Iranian holiday.

“We don’t want anything to happen to our daughter. She’s young and she hasn’t had this kind of experience in life,” he said. “It’s hard on her. I’m worried she may have a nervous breakdown.”

The Iranian New Year, or Nowruz, begins on the first day of spring. It is celebrated for about two weeks, during which schools are often closed and many businesses and government organizations are half-open if at all.

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