Roxana Saberi, the Iranian-American freelance journalist who was freed this month after being (bizarrely) sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran for "spying," gave her first real interview today, to NPR. Her ordeal sounds even worse than you might have imagined:
Saberi says she's still not sure why she was arrested; her captors made her tell her family that her crime was buying alcohol, but that was a lie. The government pressured her into a false confession; "The first few days, I was interrogated for several hours, from morning until evening, blindfolded, facing a wall, by up to four men, and threatened, as I said, that I would be put in prison for 10 to 20 years or more or even face execution." Later, she recanted it, and that pissed off her captors further:
The prosecutor got upset with me for recanting my confession and sent my case to trial instead of freeing me, and that's when I was sentenced to eight years in prison. I knew this was going to happen when I recanted my confession, but I told myself, I would rather tell the truth and stay in prison instead of telling lies to be free.
She went on a hunger strike—only water, for two weeks. She stopped only when her mom threatened to go on her own hunger strike. In all, she spent 100 days in jail. Saberi says the Iranian government had probably been monitoring her phone calls and emails for as long as two years.