When will Americans get the bullseye off our back when traveling abroad? I was reading today’s NY Daily News and came across this small story on page 22 by Dave Goldiner. It was tucked in the back, out of the way, away from the headlines of pirate ships and earthquakes and Bruce Springsteen as the “other man”. There was the story of an American girl, an Iranian girl, a young women with dual citizenship, who has been sitting in an Iranian jail for nearly three months, accused of being a spy. She may or may not be. I certainly don’t have enough facts to determine that but why has the American media not jumped all over this story. Afterall, she was a former beauty queen, Miss North Dakota 1997, and now works as a freelance journalist, reporting for the likes of the BBC and NPR.
Most of the TV network magazine shows have done stories on Foxy Knoxy, Amanda Knox, the American student charged with killing her roommate in Perugia, Italy; but I have not heard one major story about Roxana until today. Her only crime seems to be that she was working in Tehran as a freelancer when her press credentials expired at the end of January. That was her big mistake. She should’ve known better. Yet the Iranian government locked her up in January for practicing journalism without accreditation and this week made the huge leap of charging her with espionage, spying for the United States.
The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization has called on the government of Iran to release Saberi. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has done the same but the U.S. has no official ties with Iran and this will definitely not bridge the gap. The 31-year-old reporter’s trial is to start next week.
The Asian American Journalists Association is hosting a Free Roxana website and there are several sites on Facebook gaining ground, but more attention must be given to her case. We cannot let her languish in an Iranian jail to face charges merely because she carries the wrong passport and works to let the world know what Iranians don’t want anyone to hear. What she really needs is an Iranian lawyer, someone licensed to practice in Tehran……but someone who also carries an American passport….someone just like her, a dual citizen.
As an American woman, journalist and lawyer, who often travels abroad, my radar has been on high alert since 911. Even in the most “western friendly” countries of Europe there is still an anti-American sentiment that permeates the citizenry. In this weekend of hope and prayer, we can only pray that the “Obama factor” of his first overseas trip will spread. He seemed to get a good response. Heck, he even won over French President Sarkozy. Granted, winning freedom for this American journalist will not be as easily won, but this is the season of miracles, right?