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Forum staff reports, Published November 12 2009

Saberi named valor award honoree by NCAA for "bravery and courage"

MOORHEAD - Roxana Saberi, a former TV reporter from Fargo who spent four months earlier this year in an Iranian prison, will be one of two people to receive the NCAA’s 2010 Award of Valor.

Saberi, who returned to Fargo in May, is a 32-year-old Concordia College and Fargo North High School graduate. She had been charged in Iran with espionage while working on a book – a charge that eventually was reduced.

The award is presented to current or former student-athletes, coaches or administrators who have shown uncommon bravery and courage in the face of grave personal danger, according to a Concordia College news release.

The release says:

“Concordia is extremely proud of Roxana,” says Concordia College President Pam Jolicoeur. “She showed remarkable courage and poise under intense pressure and she has already made a significant impact through her emerging career as a journalist.”

Saberi played soccer for the Cobbers and graduated summa cum laude from the college in 1997. She earned graduate degrees in international relations from Cambridge University and journalism at Northwestern University. Her early career in print and television journalism included reporting positions with media outlets in Washington, D.C., Missouri, North Dakota and Texas.

In 2003, Saberi moved to Iran, the birthplace of her father, to pursue her career and cultural interests. She regularly reported for the BBC and National Public Radio. In late January 2009, she was arrested for an alleged minor offense. Without legal counsel to defend her, Saberi was convicted on espionage charges and sentenced to eight years at Evin Prison.

Placed in solitary confinement, Saberi endured severe psychological and mental stress throughout her incarceration and she was repeatedly warned she could be sentenced to prison for 10 to 20 years, or given the death penalty. In May 2009, after 100 days in prison, the Iranian Revolutionary Court of Appeals released Saberi with a two-year suspended sentence.

Saberi will receive the award at the Honors Celebration during the 2010 NCAA Convention in Atlanta in January.