American journalists Laura Ling, rigtht, and Euna Lee. Photo: AP
April 18, 2009: Roxana Saberi, a 31-year-old dual American-Iranian citizen. Photo: AP
Euna Lee and Laura Ling are being held by the criminal regime of Kim Jong-Il in North Korea.
The two women journalists Euna Lee, a Korean-American, and Laura Ling, a Chinese-American, were arrested two weeks ago after straying across North Korea’s northwestern border with China while on assignment.
They now appear to be caught up in the middle of a high-stakes game of “diplomatic blackmail” as tensions rise over North Korea’s plans to conduct a missile-test in defiance of UN resolutions.
That report was from April 1st. The missile test has come and gone, but the women remain hostages.
North Korea is proceeding with a trial against two Korean-American journalists from California, despite witnesses claiming they were detained when North Korean border guards entered Chinese territory to seize them while their cameras were rolling. The trial will be held behind closed doors, and foreign governments have expressed concern the process will not allow the journalists a fair hearing or even a defense.
Ling and Lee were reportedly interviewing women who lived in the border area about their treatment under the Communist regime. At least one witness has said they were filming from Chinese territory when one or more North Korean border guards crossed into Chinese territory and seized them and their equipment at gunpoint.
The two American journalists have reportedly been allowed consular access, in accord with international law, and a Swedish delegation has visited with them to check on their condition and their needs. The American government is saying their detention is unfounded and requests have been made for China to intervene, on grounds its sovereign territory was violated by the border guards.
To be clear: an eyewitness account says that the North Koreans took two American journalists hostage in a criminal cross-border raid, just as Hamas took Gilad Schalit hostage and Hezbollah took Regev and Goldwasser hostage (well, in the latter case, took their bodies hostage, as the two Israelis were murdered in the kidnap attempt).
In Iran, another American has been taken hostage -- in this case, the sham trial has already concluded, and the woman is in an Iranian prison.
An American journalist jailed by Iran on charges of spying for the United States "is in bad condition," her father said Monday [April 27], almost a week after she went on hunger strike.
Reza Saberi said he and his wife Akiko visited their daughter Roxana in Tehran's Evin jail on Sunday, taking flowers for her 32nd birthday.
"She is very, very weak and frail ... she is in a bad condition. She can hardly stand up," he told Reuters. "I'm worried about her health. I'm worried about her life."
The 68-year-old said he pleaded with her to stop the hunger strike, but she resisted during the 20-minute visit.
Roxana Saberi, a dual American-Iranian citizen, was convicted more than a week ago and sentenced to eight years in prison after a swift, one-day trial behind closed doors. She began her hunger strike Tuesday to protest her imprisonment, her father said.
"She said that she has started a hunger strike and this is the fifth day and that she will continue until she is free. I tried to tell her that this can be dangerous, but she didn't give me any time to protest," her father, Reza Saberi, told The Associated Press.
What is President Obama's response? At the recent Summit of the Americas, he at least acknowledged the case of Roxana Saberi:
"I am gravely concerned with her safety and well-being," Obama said of Roxana Saberi.
"I have complete confidence that she was not engaging in any sort of espionage," he added. "She is an Iranian-American who was interested in the country which her family came from. And it is appropriate for her to be treated as such and to be released."
Wow! Strong words, indeed. It is appropriate for her to be released.
Well, that's more than he's said on behalf of Euna Lee and Laura Ling. For them, not a word has passed the President's lips -- not that's been reported publicly, anyway.
So it seems that the inauguration of our new President was also a declaration of open season on Americans for all rogue states. Not only are those regimes not unclenching their fists, they're closing them tighter around the throats of three American women.