Monday, May 11, 2009

Roxana Saberi has been freed.

Great news about the American journalist who was sentenced to 8 years in an Iranian prison.

But I'm still waiting for Hossein Derakhshan, also in Iran.

And did you know about Laura Ling and Euna Lee in North Korea?

As that Wall St. Journal article notes, the news we've been getting from North Korea has all been about diplomacy and weapons. Clearly, nothing that happens in North Korea is very important unless it involves diplomacy and weapons.

Reporters Without Borders says (via the Washington Independent):

North Korea is one of the hardest countries in the world for the foreign media to cover. The North Korean authorities occasionally issue press visas for cultural or sports events or for visits by foreign officials. Once inside North Korea, journalists are closely watched by the North Korean authorities, who prevent them from interviewing members of the public. Entire regions of the country are completely closed to the international media.

It is also very difficult for the foreign press to operate freely in the Chinese provinces adjoining the North Korean border. South Korean and North Korean journalists who often work in the border region say trying to cover refugees and trafficking there is still very risky. “Chinese police raids and the presence of many undercover North Korean agents make working on the border very complicated,” Reporters Without Borders was told by a journalist working for an independent North Korean radio station based in Seoul.

North Koreans take an enormous risk if they provide information to the news media. Reporters Without Borders has documented the case of Kim Sung Chul, a member of the armed forces who has been held since October 2006 after the Kukka Anjon Bowibu (state security) identified him as the person who clandestinely filmed the video of a public execution that was broadcast on the Japanese television station Asahi TV. He is now in a concentration camp.

A North Korean TV journalist, Song Keum Chul, has been detained in a camp since 1996 for questioning the official version of certain historic events.

International human rights organisations estimate that at least 200,000 people are detained in North Korea’s concentration camps and reeducation camps.