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Klobuchar asks U.N. head to seek release of area journalist held in Iran

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar worked Monday to help free an American journalist who has been detained by the Iranian government since early February.

The journalist, Roxana Saberi, grew up in Fargo, N.D., and graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead. She had been living in Iran for the past six years, reporting for National Public Radio and the BBC, and planned to return to the United States this year, according to a statement released by Klobuchar’s office.

In a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Klobuchar wrote:

“Ms. Saberi’s detention, which appears to be unwarranted and in violation of basic human rights standards, is part of an alarming series of high-profile arrests of political and religious dissidents by Iranian officials. I request that you take urgent action to press the Government of Iran to secure the immediate release of Ms. Saberi and allow her to either continue her work in Iran or return to the U.S.”

On Feb. 10, Saberi called her father in Fargo to tell him that she had been arrested 10 days earlier, according to Klobuchar’s office.

The Iranian government confirmed that Saberi was being detained. According to Iranian officials, Saberi is accused of “illegal” reporting activities after the government revoked her press credentials in 2006.

Klobuchar’s office, which also has been in contact with the U.S. State Department, called the circumstances of the arrest “questionable.”

Her continuing work as a journalist was conducted with “the knowledge and tacit consent of the Iranian government,” according to the statement.

“I believe that the continued imprisonment of Ms. Saberi is unjustifiable and that the international community must make clear to the Government of Iran that systematic oppression of free speech and political dissent will lead only to further isolation,” Klobuchar concluded in her letter to Ban Ki-moon.

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