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Friday, May 15, 2009


Not that innocent

Britney Spears? No, Roxana Saberi. Despite the "guilty until proven innocent" (and probably even then) attitude toward Iran (and the "innocent even if proven guilty" attitude about Saberi) that one could find in the Western corporate media and from liberals and conservatives alike, it turns out that Iranian-American journalist Saberi wasn't exactly innocent:
Her lawyer, Saleh Nikbakht, has said she was convicted in part because she had a copy of a confidential Iranian report on the U.S. war in Iraq. He said she had copied the report "out of curiosity" while she worked as a freelance translator for a powerful body connected to Iran's ruling clerics. Prosecutors also cited a trip to Israel that Saberi made in 2006, he said Tuesday. Iran bars its citizens from visiting Israel, its top regional nemesis.

He said she told appeals court judges that she had copied the document two years ago but did not pass it on to the Americans as prosecutors claimed.
Well, maybe yes, maybe no. Frankly, it's a bit hard to believe she just made a copy of this classified report and then stuck it in a drawer without showing it to anyone. The U.S. claims the charges are "baseless" but that claim has no credibility whatsoever; would they admit it (or would the person making that claim even know?) if she had turned the document over to the CIA? Hardly.

Oh, and by the way, about that charge about entering Israel (although it's not actually clear whether she was charged with that, or whether that is only mentioned because she might have turned over the information to the Israelis)? Israel recently arrested journalist Amira Hass for precisely the same thing (curiously charging her with entering an "enemy state" for entering Gaza, even though Gaza is, as we all know, not a "state" at all).

It's worth contrasting this case, and the outrage it engendered in the West, with another case, that of the Cuban Five. The Cuban Five have spent more than ten years in U.S. prisons after being convicted of "espionage conspiracy." What does that mean? The word "conspiracy" is the clue. If they had possessed a single classified document, they would have been charged and convicted of "espionage." Instead, because they did not have nor had ever seen or attempted to obtain any such document, they were charged with "conspiracy" - they were thinking about obtaining classified material (according to the government). And for that crime they were sentenced to terms ranging from 15 years to double life (two life sentences), sentences which they have now spent more than ten years serving. And here we have Saberi, who apparently admits being in possession of classified Iranian documents, being sentenced to eight years in prison, and those who wish to gin up a war against Iran use that as evidence of the unjust nature and brutality of the Iranian justice system.

Sheer hypocrisy.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is still pushing the lie (to the Pope this time), and the press dutifully reporting the lie, that Iran "says it is going to destroy the Jewish state." Of course this is complete bollocks.

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