Monday, May 11, 2009

American Reporter Freed From Iranian Jail

I am glad to hear that American journalist Roxana Saberi has been freed from captivity today.

In January, she was arrested in Iran and held without charge for nearly two months until she was charged with espionage. Saberi was then tried in secret, convicted and sentenced to eight years in prison last month.

No doubt there was a great deal of international pressure brought to bear. Saberi herself went on a hunger strike.

However, I believe Iran's presidential elections next month were a greater factor in her release. Ahmadinejad (who had publicly interceded on her behalf) can say, "See, I'm liberal and fair-minded." The last thing Iran wants during its elections is bad publicity. Of course, Ahmadinejad wasn't so fair minded when she was arrested and held without charge.

I fear the Obama Administration will see Saberi's release as a sign of good faith and conclude this regime is fair and reasonable. Washington will then proceed to engage a regime that arbitrarily imprisons its own people for the most trivial of things. Yet for all of Iran's anti-Americanism, if Saberi weren't born in the United States and had been accused and convicted of espionage she would likely be dead. Heaven help the people who have the misfortune of being born in Iran.

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