U.S. Journalist Breaks Silence on Iranian Prison Ordeal

Roxana Saberi says she was blindfolded, threatened

Freed U.S. journalist Roxana Saberi broke her silence about her harrowing ordeal inside an Iranian prison Thursday, saying she was blindfolded and threatened by officials, but found the inner strength to persevere.

"The first few days, I was interrogated for several hours, from morning until evening, blindfolded, facing a wall, by up to four men, and threatened...that I would be put in prison for 10 to 20 years or more or even face execution," said Saberi, an Iranian-American freelance reporter held in Iran.

Saberi said she was not physically tortured but was under "severe psychological and mental pressure" in the prison, where she spent three months after she was charged with spying for the U.S.

"After I realized that nobody knew where I was, I was very afraid," said Saberi, who said in the interview on NPR's "All Things Considered" that she made a false confession to being a spy in order to curb threats from officials.

"I thought, 'Well if something happens to me, my family doesn't know where I am. Maybe they would never find out.' And so, I made a false confession, and I said, 'Yes, I'm a U.S. spy," Saberi said.

She used the time behind bars to reflect on her life, particularly as she began a two-week hunger strike.

"I learned that maybe other people can hurt my body, maybe they could imprison me, but I did not need to fear those who hurt my body, because they could not hurt my soul unless I let them," Saberi said.

The Fargo, N.D., journalist, 32, has dual Iranian-American citizenship and said that despite her terrifying time in lockup, she'd still like to return to the country.

"Most of the people there were so hospitable to me - so kind and so generous. And definitely, I hope to go back someday," she said.

The interview with Saberi will air today on the NPR program. 

Contact Us