Sunday, April 19, 2009

American Journalist Gets 8 years for Espionage in Iran; Suwicha gets 20 years and Chiranuch facing 50 years in jail


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Saturday she was very disappointed by Iran's decision to sentence Iranian-American journalist Roxana Saberi on spying charges and would raise the case with Tehran.

The sentencing comes as Washington is seeking to engage Iran on a range of issues and the decision to send Saberi to jail on charges of spying for the United States could complicate those efforts.

"I am deeply disappointed by the reported sentencing of Roxana Saberi by the Iranian judiciary," said Clinton in a statement released by the State Department.

ISNA news agency in Iran quoted an unnamed judiciary official as saying Saberi had been sentenced to eight years for espionage and that she could appeal her sentence.

The State Department has repeatedly called the charges against Saberi "baseless and without foundation."

Here is Giles on Suwicha Thakhor:

What kind of country and society imprisons someone for making comments on the internet? What kind of Foreign Minister encourages armed conflict with neighbouring countries in order to distract attention from internal problems? What kind of government comes to power by a combination of a military coup, two judicial coups together with street violence, bribery and threats? What kind of Prime Minister tells lies to the foreign press and Oxford academics about the state of democracy and the use of the draconian lese majeste laws? What kind of ruling class uses “the love of the King” to justify a military coup, terrorist acts by its supporters at international airports and severe censorship? Yes, Thailand is now firmly among the ranks of tin-pot despotic regimes around the world.

That the Thai ruling elite, the military and the fascist PAD yellow shirts, together with the mis-named Democrat Party, should lock up people like Suwichai Takor for 10 years is not surprising. All that Suwicha did was to post a comment about the Monarchy on the internet. The fascist PAD leaders who used street violence and blocked the airports are still free and unlikely to be put in jail. The Generals who abused their power in a coup are still racking in the money. No one should be surprised that there is no justice in Thai courts. There is no transparency and accountability of any major public institutions, including the Monarchy, the Judiciary, the Government and the Army. The judges have their own version of the lese majeste law to stifle any criticism.

What should surprise and worry us is that almost the entire Thai NGO movement, almost the entirety of Thai academia and all the mainstream media have kept silent, or worse, supported this destruction of free speech and democracy. And what should anger us also, is that Amnesty International has refused to do anything of substance to defend prisoners of conscience in Thailand.

And remember the case of Chiranuch Premchaiporn, the webmaster of Prachatai online, who is being charged with multiple counts of lese majeste and is facing 50 years in jail for comments she didn't even make.

Political Prisoners Thailand/Prachatai/Matichon has just reported another Thai woman is facing multiple charges for making copies of leaflets.

Where's the champion of free speech, Kavi? Still propagating for the military?

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