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Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Tragic Case of Roxana Saberi: The Obama Test II

Nearly two months ago, Roxana Saberi, a citizen of both Iran and the United States, was arrested by Iranian police. When she called her family, she told them that the charges were relatively mild, buying alcohol illegally. She expected to pay a small fine and be released within hours. What started as a minor incident has turned into tragedy. Today, Saberi was convicted of espionage and sentenced to eight years in an Iranian prison.

Iran convicted an American journalist of spying for the United States and sentenced her to eight years in prison, her lawyer said Saturday, complicating the Obama administration's efforts to improve relations with Tehran.

Saberi has spent the last several years in Iran. She had worked as a free lance journalist, was working on a book, and trying to absorb the culture of her heritage. Now, she is living a nightmare.

Saberi is not the first American to meet a tragic fate while in Iran. Robert Levinson, a retired FBI agent, was travelling through Iran while doing investigative work a bit more than two years ago. He has since disappeared and his family is convinced that Levinson, like Saberi, is being detained in an Iranian prison.

Both of these folks are American citizens and they deserve not only the full support of the American people but the American government. The State Dept. and the President himself have both condemned the ruling. That, in my opinion, is not enough. Iran has continued to humiliate not only its own people but foreigners with impugnity. Who can forget the eight British sailors taken hostage and paraded on television for propaganda? At some point, the world must say enough is enough.

Anymore days that Saberi spends in jail and Levinson's whereabouts still remain a mystery is a day too long. Joe Biden said the world would test Obama, and this is his next test. He didn't flinch when rogue pirates took an American ship hostage. This test will not be resolved quite so easily. It is no less acceptable that an American citizen spends even one day in prison on trumped up charges than an American be held hostage by rogue pirates. Iran has taken away the civil rights of foreigners for far too long with impugnity, now is the time to hold them accountable. More importantly, now is the time for two Americans to get justice and freedom.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Canadian.

OTTAWA (Reuters) - A female Canadian photographer who died in Tehran two years ago after being arrested had been badly tortured and quite possibly raped, an Iranian refugee to Canada said on Thursday.