Freed U.S. Journalist Returns Home

Roxana Saberi said she kept herself going by singing the U.S. national anthem

Roxana Saberi, the American journalist and former beauty queen who was freed from an Iranian prison, landed in the United States Friday to cheers and hugs from friends.

"It may sound corny, but I'm so happy to be home in the land of the free," Saberi said upon arriving in Washington D.C., telling reporters she kept herself from falling into despair by singing the national anthem.

She said she was feeling "very good" after spending a week in Vienna resting after spending four months in prison on espionage charges.

"I wish I could personally thank all those who supported me during my 100 days in prison," she said. Among those she thanked were President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, North Dakota lawmakers, human rights groups and the Japanese government.

The former North Dakota beauty queen and Northwestern University grad student was jailed by an Iranian court that found her guilty of spying for the U.S. in a closed-door trial that lasted just 15 minutes, her father said.

Saberi was freed on May 11 and reunited with her family. She spent about a week recuperating in Vienna. She planned to spend a few days in the capital before returning to her home state of North Dakota, according to Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., who issued a statement saying he was eager to welcome her home.

"I am very happy that I have been released and reunited with my father and mother," a smiling Saberi told a crowd of reporters in Tehran upon her release from prison. "I am very grateful to all the people who knew me or didn't know me and helped for my release." 

The 32-year-old reporter went on a more than two-week hunger strike to protest the eight-year sentence Iranian officials imposed on her after her conviction. Saberi had worked as a freelance journalist for several organizations, including National Public Radio and the British Broadcasting Corp.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton both called Saberi's imprisonment baseless.

"She is an American citizen, and I have complete confidence that she was not engaging in any sort of espionage," Obama said in April. "She is an Iranian-American who was interested in the country which her family came from. And it is appropriate for her to be treated as such and to be released." 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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