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American journalist Roxana Saberi on hunger strike

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders members began a hunger strike on 28 April 2009 in support of Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi, who has been sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran on a charge of spying for the United States.

Saberi has herself been on hunger strike since 21 April and, according to her father, Reza Saberi, who visited her in Tehran's Evin prison on 28 April, she is "determined and ready to go all the way." He said she appeared "much weaker" as a result of going without food for a week.

"Roxana has been significantly weakened by these seven days of hunger strike and we are very concerned for her health," Reporters Without Borders said. "We are therefore symbolically taking over the hunger strike in a gesture of solidarity, so that she no longer has to go on. Reporters Without Borders activists began their hunger strike at 11 a.m. today in Paris."

Members of Reporters Without Borders have been stationed outside the Iran Air office at 63, Avenue des Champs Elysées in Paris since 11:00 a.m. (local time) 28 April.

"We appeal to all journalists who care about freedom and human rights in Iran to join us, even if it is only for a few hours," the press freedom organisation continued. "Roxana Saberi needs to know she is not alone, and that she can now take a rest. We will not abandon her."

Seven journalists and two bloggers are currently imprisoned in Iran, which was ranked 166th out of 173 countries in the 2008 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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