Saturday, May 23, 2009

Roxana Saberi is lucky; Laura Ling and Euna Lee?

Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi returning to the United States seems almost incredible. The BBC reports her saying after her arrival: "I am so happy to be back home, in the land of the free." Originally sentenced to eight years, on appeal, the term was reduced to two. Eventually, Saberi served about 100 days in prison. Although the Iranian government released her, it also indirectly served a tough message to the United States – that it is better not to mess with us.

Saberi has worked as a freelance journalist for news organisations, including the BBC and National Public Radio (NPR). The BBC report adds that she arrived in Washington with her parents after taking time off to recover in Vienna.

While Saberi’s release is great news for journalists all over the world, for all those who believe in and value freedom of expression and the freedom to live, there is no news yet about two American journalists - Laura Ling and Euna Lee, reporters for former Vice President Al Gore's San Francisco-based online media outlet Current TV – who have been taken into custody in North Korea near the country’s border with China. They are likely to be tried, but not clear for what.

With the United States having no direct relation with North Korea, the situation could pose a problem for the two journalists. The two were reportedly in the border areas to interview North Koreans who had escaped from that country, after having already met and spoken to several such North Koreans. It is possible that a guide of some sort could have duped them. The incident happened at the time (in April) of a satellite launch from Pyongyang. It appears that the two are being detained separately in a boarding house outside Pyongyang.

We can only wish that they are released unharmed very soon. Let us also hope that journalists in Sri Lanka, now that the ‘civil war’ is over, are given the respect and the freedom they deserve.

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