New America Media [NAM] is deeply concerned about the safety and condition of the journalists recently detained in North Korea and Iran. We urge all sides to take the necessary steps for their fair treatment and immediate release. As the country’s first and largest collaboration of ethnic and youth news outlets representing more than 2,500 national associates, NAM supports the extremely vital role of the media in examining human rights conditions in communities across the globe.
On March 17, 2009, two journalists from San Francisco-based cable station Current TV, Chinese-American Laura Ling and Korean-American Euna Lee, were arrested by North Korean guards at the border with China, according to reports. Media reports from the area indicate that the two women have been transferred to Pyongyang and are being interrogated there. Cameraman Mitch Koss and their Chinese guide, who was with the group, were detained by Chinese police, according to various media reports.
On January 31, 2009, freelance journalist Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American, was detained at Iran’s Evin prison in Tehran, according to media reports. She was arrested on charges of buying alcohol, which is prohibited in the Islamic republic. Wire reports quote her father, confirming that even though her press credential was previously revoked, Roxana “stayed in Tehran to pursue a master’s degree and was doing research for a book about Iranian society.” Roxana Saberi has worked for National Public Radio [NPR], the BBC, ABC News and other international media organizations.
We extend our sympathies and prayers to these journalists’ families and loved ones and join our media colleagues who have issued their concerns about these detentions and have urged their release from custody. These groups include the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Asian American Journalists Association, Reporters Without Borders, and many others.
We also acknowledge and appreciate the diplomatic efforts of the U.S. government in trying to arrange their release. NAM will continue to closely monitor the developments regarding the detention of these journalists.