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Published March 30 2010

Saberi's book release comes with 'GMA' appearance today

She risked her life to tell the world the untold stories of Iranian citizens.

Now, Fargo native Roxana Saberi is again taking a risk to unveil details behind her four-month imprisonment last year in an Iranian jail.

Her book, “Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran,” comes out today.

“I’m afraid,” she told The Forum on Monday from New York City before national TV appearances. “But it’s worth that risk, I think, to speak out about what happened to me and my cellmates and what’s happening there to so many others.”

Just months ago, pen and paper were prohibited in the infamous Evin prison where the former Miss North Dakota was detained. Once released, the 32-year-old vividly penned the story of her 100-day imprisonment, trial and eventual release.

“I hope people understand that what happened to me is a pattern for a lot of people who go through the system there – from detention to trial,” she said Monday. “It’s unfair and unjust.”

The 336-page book published by HarperCollins was written mainly in Fargo – the place she still calls home and has spent most of the past 11 months.

Seven years ago, the Fargo North High School and Concordia College graduate moved to Iran, where she has dual citizenship, to work as a freelance journalist.

The former National Public Radio reporter was working on a book about the people of her father’s native country when she was arrested, accused of spying for the U.S.

She said she did nothing wrong, adding, “I think they wanted to make an example out of me.”

While in solitary confinement and under psychological pressure, thoughts of her parents and “good ol’ safe Fargo” caused Saberi to vow that, once released, she’d trade overseas journalism for teaching in her hometown.

A Fargo vigil and other events honoring her while in jail were “really empowering,” she said.

“Those actions that take place in Fargo or other cities in America can have an impact for individuals on the other side of the world,” she added.

An eight-year sentence was later reduced to a two-year suspended term and she was released last May.

Now, nearly a year later, Saberi is still haunted by images of the Iranian jail. The book, she said, has been therapeutic yet difficult to complete.

Before her release, her interrogators threatened to track her down if she told about her imprisonment.

“I don’t think they wanted me to give the details that I give in my book,” she said. “But I feel that it’s important that they are exposed, that the injustices they are inflicting upon so many people … are exposed.”

Now, Saberi hopes to return to journalism, finish the book she was working on before her arrest, and even return to Iran someday when the political climate is safer.

“Those people wanted me to tell their stories and to show outsiders a more complete picture of their country,” she said. “I’m lucky to be free and to be in a place where I have the freedom of speech.”

Saberi to appear on 'GMA' today

From ABC’s “Good Morning America” today to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” on Wednesday, Roxana Saberi has a busy two months of events. Here are local events, with most times to be determined:

  • April 15: Concordia College

  • April 16: The Midwest Journalism Conference in the Twin Cities

  • April 19: University of North Dakota in Grand Forks

  • April 20: Bismarck State College

  • May 13: Zandbroz Variety store in downtown Fargo, 6:30 p.m.


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