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Attorney says imprisoned journalist Saberi is 'very depressed'

Roxana Saberi asks lawyer to tell family that she loves them.1 / 2
"So far, we didn't even know she was alive. Now our lawyer has actually seen and talked to her," Reza Saberi says.2 / 2

FARGO - The family of detained journalist Roxana Saberi now knows for certain she's alive.

An attorney who was turned away Saturday for not having the correct paperwork was able to meet with the 31-year-old Sunday morning at a courthouse.

And while the lawyer didn't see any signs of torture, the Fargo native began to cry when she met the lawyer and seemed "very depressed," her father said.

The freelance journalist has been imprisoned in Iran for more than a month.

"It seems like she was completely isolated from the rest of the world," Reza Saberi said Sunday, adding that his daughter requested the lawyer bring back a few books from her apartment to read while being detained in a prison north of the Iranian capital of Tehran.

She had another request of the lawyer: Tell her father and mother, Akiko, in Fargo that she loves them.

It was some bright news for her parents during the short conversation they had with their lawyer before the phone line went dead a couple of minutes in.

Reza Saberi said he tried calling back three more times before he gave up.

"They are controlling our phones," he said. "We wanted to know more. But (our lawyer will) go back. He has the papers signed to defend her."

That is, if the Iranian government gives Roxana Saberi a trial. Officials there said last week that she was arrested for working illegally after her press pass was revoked two years ago.

She has been living and working in Iran for six years, contributing to news organizations such as National Public Radio and the BBC. She graduated from Fargo North High School and Concordia College.

Reza Saberi said he doesn't know when his lawyer will be able to visit his daughter again or what will happen next.

But Sunday's phone call was one more step to getting their daughter home after a week of developments - from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's call for her release to media reports Friday saying she will be freed soon.

"This is important for us," Reza Saberi said about Sunday's call from their lawyer. "So far, we didn't even know she was alive. Now our lawyer has actually seen and talked to her."