Posted by: daradoodle | April 26, 2009

Taking One For The Team

Roxana Saberi (courtesy of Reuters), Euna Lee & Laura Ling (courtesy of Getty Images) and Esha Momeni (courtesy of Sanam Dolatshahi)

Roxana Saberi (courtesy of Reuters), Euna Lee & Laura Ling (courtesy of Getty Images) and Esha Momeni (courtesy of Sanam Dolatshahi)


Think about all of the information that you never would’ve known had someone not put their safety or life at risk for the sake of journalism. Think about how many scandals have been uncovered by investigative reporters and how the truth obtained changed the world. Heck, a U.S. president resigned due to the investigative work of reporters at The Washington Post. 

There’s no doubt that journalists play a major role in the way the world is viewed and shaped. Many of these media professionals are thanked for their efforts. However, some might consider their work tactics a nuisance, which is where the level of appreciation could fall by the wayside. 

Bracing the headlines over the past few weeks has been the unfortunate news of Roxana Saberi, Euna Lee, Laura Ling and Esha Momeni who were jailed in Iran and North Korea while collecting data for news stories, or academic research. 

Roxana Saberi, who has been jailed in Iran since January, was recently convicted of espionage by an Iranian court and sentenced to eight years in prison. On Tuesday, she began a hunger strike (today is Sunday) and sources say that she has (obviously) become very weak. I’m not in the U.S., so I can’t watch the coverage of her status, but based on what I’m finding online, this looks like big news back home. 

Then last month, Euna Lee and Laura Ling from Current TV were arrested on the China/North Korea boarder while working on a story about women seeking refuge in China from North Korea’s communist rule. One witness says that the reporters were on the China side of the boarder when the arrest occurred, but there hasn’t been much development on this situation due to the lack of communication that the U.S. has with North Korea. A Swedish Ambassador is doing the mediating and sadly, it doesn’t sound like Lee and Ling are heading home anytime soon. Candlelight vigils for these two women will be held in both Sacramento and San Francisco, California early next week. 

On October 15, 2008, Esha Momeni, a Iranian-American graduate student from my alma mater, California State University, Northridge, was working on her thesis in Iran when she was stopped by police for allegedly passing a vehicle illegally. Her case is slightly different because technically, she’s not a journalist. Her study at CSUN is in Mass Communications within the School of Journalism and the focus of her research is on Iranian feminism. 

Esha was finally released from jail in November on $200,000 bail, but since, her passport has been denied, so she’s unable to leave the country. The Bull Magazine, a publication by students at Pierce College in the San Fernando Valley, interviewed CSUN faculty and others for a video about Esha’s situation. Click here to watch. And to sign a petition for her immediate release, click here

China doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to tolerance toward media professionals, so my friends often question some of the ideas that I have for stories. What has happened to these ladies could happen to anyone. Just yesterday, I read an article by Gotham Chopra where he talks about his cross with avoiding arrest in a “rouge nation.” Some journalists aren’t always so lucky. 

Keep these women in your thoughts and don’t ever take your freedom of speech (if you’re reading this in a country that allows freedom of speech) for granted. 

***********UPDATED  5/16/09*********** 

Great news for Roxana Saberi last week. She was released from an Iranian prison with a suspended two-year term and a five-year ban on practicing journalism in Iran. Fair enough! Her two-week hunger strike might have had something to do with this, but in any case, it’s great to see that she’s alive and “free.” 

I’m sure that she has book deals and Lifetime made for TV movie pitches flying at her left and right. She says that she needs time before speaking about the whirl wind she experienced over the past months. Read the full report here

In North Korea, Laura Ling and Euna Lee will be put on trial on June 4th. If convicted on charges of espionage, they could be looking at up to 10 years in prison. 

Al Gore has taken a step forward in speaking out for the release of the two women. This isn’t the first time that North Korea has used the capture of U.S. citizens as possible bargaining tools. Read the full report here

***********UPDATED  8/4/09*********** 

After a visit from former U.S. President Bill Clinton earlier today, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Ill, has pardoned Laura Ling and Euna Lee for illegally entering the country back in March. In June, the two Current TV journalists were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for entering North Korea illegally. A few days ago, Lisa Ling, Laura Ling’s older sister who is also a journalist, made a statement that during a recent phone conversation her younger sister admitted that they had broke law. Laura Ling said that the only way they would ever be released by N. Korea was if amnesty was sought and that’s exactly what was accomplished by President Clinton today

***********UPDATED  8/17/09*********** 

After nearly a year, the Iranian government has finally allowed Esha Momeni to leave the country and return to the United States. A student from California State University, Northridge interviewed Momeni about her experience and the four part video can be viewed on YouTube. For more updates, visit the blog set-up for Momeni, For Esha’s Return

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  1. This is completely irrelevant to your blogpost, but I have been wondering if that is you in the picture in your blog header. Sorry for the random question!

    • In the blog header? Why… that’s Ambassador Doodle! ::wink, wink::

  2. Hey Erin, I noticed that was ambassadordoodle about the third time I saw her pretty face! Ha! Mama Judy

  3. Dear Mr. Kim Jong Il, free Laura and Euna
    as Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did for Saberi,

    The journalist, Roxana Saberi, had been in the Iranian jail since January as she was charged for spying. She is a hopeful young American female journalist. Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders considered her circumstances very seriously, morally, in a humane way. Now she is free to come home. We pray for her health and peace and joy in the family;

    Needless to say, our president Mr. Obama and the secretary of state Mrs. Clinton greatly helped her case as the Iranian leaders understood their concerns. Whole world expressed joy of Saberi’s home coming. More good understandings hopefully would come from the leaders of both nations.
    Meantime, we hope that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il too this time take the same line of thought as the Iranian and American leaders had for Ms. Roxana Saberi and free two female American journalists -One Chinese American, one Korean American – Laura Ling and Euna Lee, as spies, jailed now in the cold North Korea.
    We understand that Mr. Kim has the same humane fatherly compassion too as these leaders had for this young Saberi who is in the same age group of their children.
    Saberi and the American female journalists probably had the same intellectual curiosity and dutiful obligation to inform the world about the true images of the countries they were visiting in order to promote better human understanding among the nations
    for a better tomorrow.

    We hope that Mr. Kim by now should have much more progressive thought than Mr. Mikhail Gorbachev had for the declining Soviet Union.

    Consider the young American female journalists’ bravery and intellectual curiosity as well as their love for Koreans in North and South.

    See the Korean airmen and navies saved North Koreans when their cargo ship was attached by the pirates as they had the strong love of Koreans as the same family members at the same time to accomplish their duty as soldiers to keep peace in the international waters. Imagine these brave Koreans did for the international duty according to the law. Proud Koreans!! Do you know Koreans are not dummies but so smart!!

    For there is no borderline in love.

    Mr. Kim should understand we have to build a better world according to the ideas of young new generation that should have much more enlightened than those of the now aged leaders’ of the troubled world.

    Try to educate the young generation to have a better life than you and we have as we could not have accomplished the dream yet although we so dreamed of. You have a good chance to show your good will to the world, freeing these two female Americans from the cold jail.

    If you free them, all Koreans in North and South and all Chinese people as well as the American people and the people of the world will admire you as the man of good will. Just free them with your good message to the American leaders too as it is very good opportunity for you to express some of your inner thoughts to them as the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his leaders did.

    Please free the young Korean American journalists from the cold jail. They are suffered enough because of a misunderstanding by your misinformed or informed leaders. For the world already knows very well the people are starving in the workers’ paradise.

    Laura and Euna wanted to help them somehow, someway. Hopefully this time the judges in North Korean court should demonstrate their legal brilliance for the case as the Iranian judges did for Saberi.

    God will bless your good deeds.

    Sincerely, Chae S. Sone Thursday, May 14, 2009

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