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Miss America Organization Supports Roxana Saberi In Fight For Release From Iran

The Miss America Organization Offers Support to American Journalist and Former Contestant, Roxana Saberi for her Immediate Release from Iran

American journalist and former Miss North Dakota, was jailed in Iran and has been convicted of spying. She has been sentenced to eight years in prison, as reported by her lawyer and news outlets on Saturday, dashing any hopes for her quick release.

Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen, was arrested in late January and initially accused of working without press credentials. But an Iranian judge later leveled a far more serious allegation, charging her with spying for the United States.

She appeared before an Iranian court last Monday that ended in a one-day trial. Roxana, a North Dakota native has been living in Iran for six years and had worked as a freelance reporter for several news organizations including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp.

Roxana's lawyer will now appeal the verdict. The Miss America Organization will continue to work with the State Executive Director of North Dakota to support Roxana's family and to offer our support and help support the government's efforts. The United States has called the charges against Roxana baseless and has demanded her release. The conviction and prison sentence could put strains on efforts to improve ties between the longtime adversaries.

On Thursday, the State Department said Roxana's jailing was not helpful to US relations and that Iran would gain U.S. goodwill if it "responded in a positive way" to the case.

Her extraordinary resume includes holding two master's degrees, from Northwestern University in the US and from Cambridge University, in the UK, which she attended on a Rotary scholarship, and is currently studying for a third.

Roxana moved to Iran six years ago and worked as a freelance journalist for various news organizations, including the BBC, radio network NPR and the TV network Fox News. The daughter of an Iranian father and a Japanese mother, she was once crowned Miss North Dakota, was among the top 10 finalists in Miss America 1998 and the recipient of the first Miss America Scholar Award, and has spent six years in Iran studying and writing a book.

After her press credentials were revoked in 2006, Roxana stayed on to finish a book on Iran and to study and planned to return to the U.S. later this year. Knowing the perceptions and dangers for a young single woman in Iran she was cautious wearing a headscarf and observing the customs, even in diplomatic functions where there were no restrictions.

President and CEO, Art McMaster has been in constant contact with State Executive Director, Marian Hamilton, to stay informed and to try to create movement to help appeal the verdict. We will continue to keep you informed and know that you too, will keep Roxana and her family in your thoughts and prayers.

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