WASHINGTON, D.C. — A former Fargo woman who spent four months in an Iranian prison in the spring of 2009 set foot on U.S. soil again 10 years ago this week.
Roxana Saberi, then 32 years old, arrived at Dulles International Airport with her parents and a family friend on May 23, 2009. The freelance journalist who once worked at KVLY-TV in Fargo had moved to Iran six years earlier. She was arrested in late January and convicted of spying for America in a closed-door trial that her Iranian-born father said lasted only 15 minutes.
The United States had said the charges against Saberi were baseless and repeatedly demanded her release. The case against her had become an obstacle to President Barack Obama’s attempts at dialogue with the top U.S. adversary in the Middle East.
She was eventually freed May 11, 2009, and reunited with her parents, who had come to Iran to seek her release, after an appeals court reduced her sentence to two years suspended.
“I wish I could personally thank all those who supported me during my 100 days in prison,” Saberi told reporters. Among those she thanked were President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, North Dakota lawmakers, human rights groups and the Japanese government.
Saberi graduated from Fargo North High School in 1994 and Concordia College in 1997, earning degrees in communication and French. She was crowned Miss North Dakota in 1997 and was among the top ten finalists in Miss America in 1998.
She told reporters upon her arrival in Washington that singing the national anthem helped keep her going. “And it may sound corny, but I’m so happy to be home in the land of the free," she said at the time.
She flew into Fargo on May 31, 2009, to a crowd of supporters, family and friends.
In 2010, Saberi wrote and published "Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran."
Saberi now lives in London and is a correspondent for CBS News.