April 23, 2009

Jailed Journalists: Three Americans Imprisoned Abroad

Photo: Marchers in Seoul, South Korea, protest the jailing of American Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee (Lee Jin-man/Courtesy The Associated Press)
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Marchers in Seoul, South Korea, protest the jailing of American Journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee (Lee Jin-man/Courtesy The Associated Press)
Photo: American journalist Roxana Saberi is jailed in Iran. (National Press Photographers Association/Courtesy Agence France-Presse)
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American journalist Roxana Saberi is jailed in Iran. (National Press Photographers Association/Courtesy Agence France-Presse)

Three American journalists are in jail in Iran and North Korea as United Nations World Press Freedom Day arrives May 3.

Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American journalist who had reported for National Public Radio and the BBC, was arrested in January and sentenced April 18 to eight years in jail. The charge: spying for the United States. Saberi was born in the United States and moved to Iran six years ago, where she was a freelance reporter. In 2006, she began work on a book about Iran, her father said.

Iranian dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi will defend Saberi in her appeal. President Barack Obama, as well as press and human rights groups, has called for Saberi’s release.

In North Korea, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, working for San Francisco-based Current TV, were arrested March 17 on the Chinese border by North Korean authorities. The women were accused of entering North Korea illegally and being hostile to the state. Ling and Lee were working on a story about North Koreans escaping their country.

The three Americans are among an estimated 125 journalists who are in jail around the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

A Day to Remember

By Patty Rhule, Newseum projects editor

In 1993, the United Nations declared May 3 World Press Freedom Day, to celebrate press freedom and to honor journalists who died performing their jobs.

Each spring, Freedom House, a nonprofit group that promotes freedom and democracy, rates press freedom in 194 countries and territories. In Iran and North Korea, where U.S. reporters are detained, the press is considered "not free."

The Newseum’s 22-foot World Press Freedom map, located in the Time Warner World News Gallery, now reflects the latest rankings. Artifacts from journalists who have been detained and killed for their work are also displayed there.

The Newseum’s Journalists Memorial honors the men and women who died while reporting the news.

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