In September 1988, the Indian-born British writer Salman Rushdie published “The Satanic Verses,” a novel containing what some saw as an irreverent depiction of the prophet Mohamed. In February 1989 – exactly ten years after leading Iran’s Islamic Revolution- the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwā calling the book “blasphemous” and offering a bounty for Rushdie’s murder.
One month later, Britain broke relations with Iran. But most other nations responded fecklessly, if at all. And in 1998, Britain restored relations with Iran after its rulers offered a meaningless promise: They would “neither support nor hinder assassination operations on Rushdie” undertaken in response to Khomeini’s decree. Seven years later, the fatwā was reaffirmed by Khomeini’s successor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a message to Muslim pilgrims making the haj to Mecca. Since then, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards also have declared the death sentence valid.
In January, Roxana Saberi, a 32-year-old American journalist – she has reported for National Public Radio, the BBC and other media — was arrested in Tehran on patently bogus charges of espionage – the same charge, by the way, that was made against journalist Daniel Pearl by the militant Islamists who kidnapped and, eventually, slaughtered him in Pakistan.
Last month, Saberi was hastily tried – one day, behind closed doors — and sentenced to 8 years in prison. On April 21st, she defiantly went on a hunger strike. She stayed on it for 15 days until this week when, according to her Iranian-born father, Reza Saberi, her health began to sharply deteriorate.
Den iransk-amerikanske journalist, Roxana Saberi, er her til formiddag blevet løsladt fra Teherans Evin-fængsel.
En kilde i det iranske justitsministerium har over for nyhedsbureauet Reuters forklaret, at Saberi kunne forlade fængslet kort tid efter, at en appeldomstol havde reduceret hendes dom ubetingede fængselsdom til en betinget dom på to års fængsel.
Den 32-årige Saberi, der har dobbelt statsborgerskab, blev den 18. april i år idømt otte års fængsel for spionage til fordel for USA.