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Kelly Smith, Published March 19 2009

Saberi release delayed

Iranian holiday means at least two-week wait

The wait for good news will continue for another two weeks for Fargo journalist Roxana Saberi and her family.

Her parents knew that if their daughter wasn’t released from the Iranian jail she’s being held in by the end of this week – when the Iranian New Year holiday of Norouz begins – she would remain there.

Their deadline came and went Wednesday without any word from Iranian officials.

“I’m very disappointed,” her father, Reza Saberi, said Wednesday. “It will be at least two weeks before they decide anything.”

The Fargo native and freelance journalist has been imprisoned in Tehran for more than six weeks.

The North Dakota delegation also echoed Wednesday the need for Saberi to be released before the holiday, when many Iranian institutions close.

Rep. Earl Pomeroy and Sens. Byron Dorgan and Kent Conrad pressed U.N. officials Wednesday to help release Saberi.

“Securing Roxana’s release is of the utmost importance, and the beginning of the Iranian New Year on Friday brings an even greater sense of urgency,” the delegation said in a joint statement.

They contacted the Iranian ambassador to the U.N. and the U.N. high commissioner on human rights Wednesday to push for Saberi’s release.

There were reports nearly two weeks ago that she would be released within days.

“But they didn’t free her,” Reza Saberi said. “They haven’t done anything.”

Now, the family will likely go a week without any updates from their lawyer, who Saberi said will take the week off for the holiday. Saberi hopes the Iranian lawyer will be able to meet again with his daughter next week.

Until then, family members resumed anxiously waiting to hear their daughter’s voice again since her last call 10 days ago.

“It’s not easy to wait,” Saberi said. “But we hope that she calls again.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515