Rev. Jackson Wants to Help Free Jailed American in Iran, 22 April 2009

The Rev. Jesse Jackson – no stranger to negotiating the releases of hostages from hostile lands – is proposing to go to Iran to try and win the freedom of a jailed American journalist. Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old South Dakotan who has been living in Iran since 2003, was accused of spying and sentenced to eight years in prison. “I would be anxious to travel with a delegation to Iran, if we are permitted, and make an appeal for her freedom,” the longtime civil rights activist said at a peace conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. "Whenever we’ve brought people out of captivity, whether in Syria, Cuba, Iraq, or Yugoslavia, or Liberia, it’s always opened a diplomatic door to reduce tensions.” President Obama has denounced the Iranian courts for the one-day, closed-door trial that led to the sentence. Saberi’s attorney has promised to appeal the verdict. Jackson has a history of success in winning the release of American hostages. In 1984, he secured the release of a Navy pilot held in Syria; in 1991, he helped get 500 “international guests” freed from custody in Iraq; and in 1999, he convinced Yugoslavia to release three U.S. soldiers held there during the Kosovo conflict. Saberi has freelanced for several news organizations, including National Public Radio; she was also writing a book about Iranian culture.