Bahman Ghobadi: She is innocent


Bahman Ghobadi: She is innocent
by Shorts

(21 April 2009) Bahman Ghobadi, Iranian filmmaker, has written an open letter following the arrest and conviction of Roxana Saberi. The text of Bahman Ghobadi’s letter is the following:

“To Roxana Saberi, Iranian with an American passport”

If I kept quiet until now, it was for her sake. If today I speak, it is for her sake.

She is my friend, my fiancée, and my companion. An intelligent and talented young woman, whom I have always admired.

It was the 31st of January. The day of my birthday. That morning, she called to say she would pick me up so we would go out together. She never came. I called on her mobile, but it was off, and for two-three days I had no idea what had happened to her. I went to her apartment, and since we had each other’s keys, I went in, but she wasn’t there. Two days later, she called and said: “Forgive me my dear, I had to go to Zahedan.” I got angry: why hadn’t she said anything to me? I told her I didn’t believe her, and again she said: “Forgive me my dear, I had to go.” And the line was cut. I waited for her to call back. But she didn’t call back. She didn’t call back.

I left for Zahedan. I looked for her in every hotel, but nobody had ever heard her name. For ten days, thousands of wild thoughts came to my mind. Until I learned, through her father, she had been arrested. I thought it was a joke.

I thought it was a misunderstanding and that she would be released after two or three days. But days went by and I had no news from her. I started to worry and knocked on every door for help, until I understood what had happened.

It is with tears in my eyes that I say she is innocent and guiltless. It is me, who has known her for years, and shared every moment with her, who declares it. She was always busy reading and doing her research. Nothing else. During all these years I’ve known her, she wouldn’t go anywhere without letting me know, nor would do anything without asking my advice. To her friends, her family, everyone that surrounded her, she had given no signs of unreasonable behavior. How come someone who would spend days without going out of her apartment, except to see me; someone who, like a Japanese lady, would carefully spend her money, and had sometimes trouble making a living; someone who was looking for a sponsor to get in contact with a local publisher so her book would be printed here (in Iran); could now be charged with a spying accusation?! We all know - no, we have all seen in movies - that spies are malicious and sneaky, that they peep around for information, and that they are very well paid. And now my heart is full of sorrow. Because it is me who incited her to stay here. And now I can’t do anything for her. Roxana wanted to leave Iran. I kept her from it.

At the beginning of our relationship, she wanted to go back to the United States. She would have liked us to go together. But I insisted for her to stay until my new film was over. She really wanted to leave Iran. And I kept her from it. And now I am devastated, for it is because of me she has been subject to these events. These past years, I have been subject to a serious depression. Why? Because my movie had been banned, and released on the black market. My next movie was not given an authorization, and I was forced to stay at home. If I’ve been able to stand it until today, it is thanks to the presence and help that she provided me with.

Since I had no authorization for my last movie, I was nervous and ill-tempered. And she was always there to calm me down.

Roxana wanted to leave Iran. I kept her from it. She is the one who took care of me while I was depressed. Then I convinced her to stay, I wanted her to write the book she had started in her head. I accompanied her, and thanks to my friends and contacts, I knocked on every door and was able to set up meetings with film makers, artists, sociologists, politics, and others. I would go with her myself.

She was absorbed by her book, to the point that she could stay and bear it all, until my film would be finished, and we would leave together.

Roxana’s book was a praise to Iran. The manuscripts exist, and it will certainly be published one day, and all will see it. But why have they said nothing? All those who have talked, worked and sat with her, and who know how guiltless she is.

I am writing this letter for I am worried about her. I am worried about her health. I heard she was depressed and cried all the time. She is very sensitive. To the point she refuses to touch her food.

My letter is a desperate call to all statesmen and politics, and to all those who can do something to help. From the other side of the ocean, the Americans have protested against her imprisonment, because she is an American citizen. But I say no, she is Iranian, and she loves Iran. I beg you, let her go! I beg you not to throw her in the midst of you political games! She is too weak and too pure to take part in your games. Let me be present at her trial, sit next to her wise father and gentle mother, and testify she is without guilt or reproach.

However, I am optimistic about her release, and I firmly hope the verdict will be cancelled in the next stage of the trial.

My Iranian girl with Japanese eyes and an American ID, is in jail. Shame on me! Shame on us!

Bahman Ghobadi



more from Shorts

Ms. Saberi

by smhb on

First of all I would like to wish Ms. Saberi well and sincerely hope that she will be released and returned to her family.

However I also like to touch on a few points.

Mr. Ghobadis letter is primarily an emotional appeal which is understandable but devoid of any factual relevance to indicate innocence in the face of the severe charge of espionage leveled against Ms. Saberi.

Is it possible that she may have had some activities that could be construed as espionage looking from the perspective of the highly stressed and possibly paranoid judges and prosecutors?

Is it possible that she was a spy?

Is it also possible that she is completely innocent and a pawn in an international game of chicken between Iran and US?

I do like to address the underlying issues relevant to the first two points and finish off with addressing the the third point. 

As Iranians we all know too well that there
is a widespread conviction in Iran that western countries are
attempting to overthrow the Islamic Republic through a "velvet"
revolution spearheaded by NGOs, charities and other international

Gosh, gees, where on earth would the Iranians get that idea from?

it perhaps be aggravated by the fact that it is official US government policy to overthrow the Iranian government? With plenty of recent precedence to back it up.

only an idiot would not regard it as pretty likely that the US and UK
and israheli governments are actively engaged in espionage and destabilisation
operations aganst Iran, and that some at least amongst the "NGOs, charities and
other international organisations" are implicated in those activities
either knowingly or unwittingly. History proves beyond dispute that
such methods were used by western intelligence agencies during the great game of the 19th century and early 20th century and the Cold
War, and there's no reason to suppose they've changed their methods
that much, just because they profess to be the true guardians of democracy and human rights.

I know nothing about the particulars of this
individual case, but I don't see why we are automatically expected to
believe that pro-western bloggers and journalists aren't spying
for the US or engaging in anti-government activities when they are accused of
doing so by the IR.

I suspect even a few of the many hundreds or
thousands of people detained without trial or charges by the US regime
and its client states around the world may have been guilty of anti-US activity. Just because
governments are incompetent doesn't mean they are always wrong.

Saberi should get a fair and open trial, as anyone should, but as far
as her actual activities are concerned I'll reserve judgement till further facts are provided and we become better informed.

Both the US and the Iranian government are paranoid. At least the IR has
plenty of history to back it up and the excuse of being directly under threat of attack and invasion by the wealthiest and most
powerful state in the world with a proven track record of espionage,
sabotage, assassinations, instigating war of aggression and aggressive use of force, rather than facing just a few
Arab cave-dwellers who were incidentally trained by the CIA, Mossad and MI6.

Has Ms. Saberi been waterboarded, by the way, or stripped naked and forced to stay awake for several days or being exposed naked to attack dogs for the pleasure of her mentally deranged guards? The answer is a clear NO. BTW, I dont recall hearing of such charges when Haleh Esfandiari was released and returned to her family and loved ones in the US.

Having said that I would also like to address the third point, 

Is Iran responding tit-for-tat to the continued detention in Iraq of Iranian citizens on espionage charges?

That sounds very possible to me.

My guess is she'll be released on appeal, and some of the Iranian's the US has locked up in Iraq and severly tortured will get to go home to their families at last.

don't think Iran has anything to gain by putting her in jail,
but she'll be a useful bargaining chip to free up some of Iran's people
banged up in Iraq.

Not much fun for Roxana or her family, but then
there are many more Iranian's in god knows where in Iraq who's continued
incarceration, torture and abuse is wrong and reprehensible.

Time for a prisoner swap I think.


تخصص اين حكومت

كامبيز تهراني (not verified)

تخصص اين حكومت در گروگانگيري و معامله روي انسانها براي پيشبرد اهداف شوم خودش است. تا آنجا كه به حكومت ولايت فقيه و رئيس جمهورهاي رنگ و وارنگش در هر دوره اي و حالا احمدي نژاد برميگردد مسئله زنداني كردن خانم ركسانا صابري جاي تعجب ندارد. اينها همانطور كه ديگر هموطنان خاطرنشان كرده اند در اين زمينه پيشينه هايي مثل زهرا كاظمي را دارند. در اين داستان فقط يك جا هنوز جاي تعجب دارد و آنهم موس موس كردن دولت آمريكا و كلا غربي هاست. هرچه شما (آمريكا و اروپا) بيشتر ناز اين رژيم را بكشيد و مماشات كنيد او بيشتر هار و جري تر ميشود كه از شما تلفات بيشتري بگيرد. او سفره ننگين را مي اندازد و شماها با كمال تاسف سر اين سفره از جيب مردم ايران مي نشينيد و بر درد و رنج اين مردم چشم مي بنديد و با زبان بي زباني به ملا ميگوييد كارت را بكن و به همين صورت ادامه بده. كم از شما در عراق و افغانستان كشته گرفته و بازهم ميگيرد؟ چرا خودتان را علاف كرده ايد؟ آقايان مگر نه اينكه در هركجاي اين دنيا يك بمب كه منفجر ميشود بايد سرنخ آنرا زير عباي ملا پيدا كرد؟ البته شما اينها را خوب ميدانيد ولي منافع كوتاه مدت تان شجاعت را از شما گرفته است.
ولي لازم ميدانم يادآوري كنم كه اين حكومت فقط يك زبان را مي فهمد يعني با يك زبان ميشود با او مكالمه كرد آنهم زبان قدرت است. هر زبان ديگري را او به مثابه ضعف شما تلقي ميكند.
وقتي ميخواهيد ملا را آنطرف ميز ديپلماسي بگذاريد مطمئن باشيد كه چيزي جز فتنه نصيب تان نخواهد شد كه البته ضرر اصلي را هم مردم مظلوم و محروم ايران ميكنند و قيمت وقت تلف كردن شما از جيب ما ايرانيان ميرود و بس.
اميدوارم به هوش بياييد. ما حتي كوتاه مي آييم و از شما هم نميخواهيم انسانيت بخرج دهيد بلكه به منافع خودتان هم كه بنگريد اين راهش نيست.


Dear Bahman Ghobadi


Your letter is brave and timely.  I am sad and very sorry for your horrible ordeal and sincerely hope your letter would help your dear friend by securing her release.  I hope you will be happily and safely together again.  I am sure your close knowledge of Roxanna's life in Iran, is a blessing that could establish her innocence.  


Nobody is innocent

by AnonymousInnocent (not verified) on

What was she doing in Iran? Why is it that IRI is not arresting me or my family despite all the nagging they do about the regime? Why would IRI pick one woman out of millions and arrest her with such a fanfare? If IRI was so evil as some would like to portray then why didn't they simply shoot her in a dark alley? Wouldn't that be by far easier and less attention grabbing? I don't know this girl but I know there have been quite a few such individuals who are after fame, glory and money at the expense of putting a whole nation in danger. The "revolutionaries," the "human rights activists," etc. I think what Iranian nation would say is, "Please stop! We don't need activists! You are killing us with the sanctions and bad publicity that you bring to our country. Please stop killing our young with your activisim!"