Three American journalists have recently been imprisoned in Iran and North Korea.
Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen, was arrested and sentenced in a closed court to 8 years in prison for spying in Iran.
North Korea said this week that it would put the two American journalists (Laura Ling and Euna Lee) on trial, and suggested that they could face years in a prison camp.
Our government and human rights groups are working hard for their release and concerned for their treatment.
The response has been humbling:
North Koreans scoffed at any suggestion that the Americans were receiving harsh treatment.
"They laughed. 'We are not Guantanamo.'
Iranian judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi told reporters, "That a [U.S.] government expresses an opinion without seeing the indictment is laughable."
How can they find our concerns so "laughable"? Maybe because of the case of Sami al-Haj.
Pakistani forces apparently seized al-Haj at the behest of the U.S. authorities who suspected he had interviewed Osama bin Laden.
But that "supposed intelligence" turned out to be false.
"This is wonderful news, and long overdue," said Clive Stafford Smith who has represented al-Haj since 2005.
Al-Haj was never prosecuted at Guantanamo so the U.S did not make public its full allegations against him.
Al-Haj was the only journalist from a major international news organization held at Guantanamo and many of his supporters saw his detention as punishment for a network whose broadcasts angered U.S. officials.
For six years, an innocent man was imprisoned with no charges, no trial, constantly shifting allegations, brutal treatment, no visits with family and not even a phone call home... by the U.S. government.
Sami al-Haj's response to his imprisonment is worth thinking about:
”My last message to the US administration is that torture will not stop terrorism — torture is terrorism.”
But even more important considering the fate of three of our own journalists are the words from The Committee to Protect Journalists:
"His detention for six years, without the most basic due process, is a grave injustice and represents a threat to all journalists working in conflict areas."
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Roxana Saberi was set free after an appeals court reduced her punishment to a two-year suspended sentence. So, Iran allows actual trials and appeals to their enemy combatants... And they're the "evil" ones?