Today is US journalist Roxana Saberi’s 32nd birthday. She’s spending it in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, where she’s been since January.
Michelle Malkin reports:
After an hour-long trial, she was sentenced to eight years behind bars for “espionage.” She was initially told she was arrested for buying bootleg wine, and then because she was working as a journalist without a license. She’s now on day five of a hunger strike. Today, one of her defense lawyers was denied access to her.
Saberi is a former North Dakota beauty queen educated at Oxford and Northwestern with an extraordinary background. Here’s some of her work. Her home state newspaper, the Grand Forks Herald, weighs in:
Iran’s imprisonment of Roxana Saberi is an international outrage, a flagrant violation of the norms of civilized conduct. But it should come as no surprise.
The Iranian government has shown its disregard for those norms before. This latest example should give great pause to the Obama administration, which came in to office plainly willing to give Iran the benefit of the doubt — and now has seen Iran repudiate that gesture as it has so many before, with cynicism and contempt.
Saberi, imprisoned since January, has been convicted of spying, news stories reported Saturday. Now, whenever these kinds of accusations surface, there’s always a chance that the accused is guilty and was caught in the act.
But in this case, that chance seems vanishingly small. There are ways to credibly accuse and convict someone of espionage, but the Iranian court system has not employed them. Just the opposite: It has mocked those norms by disregarding their substance, while using the norms’ vocabulary — “trial,” “attorney,” “defense” and so on — to give the government’s actions a patina of justice.
Here is all one needs to know about justice as it seems to be practiced in modern Iran. The quote is from a story in Sunday’s New York Times:
“Ms. Saberi’s father, Reza Saberi, who came to Tehran two weeks ago from Fargo, N.D., to secure her release, said Sunday that neither she nor her lawyer was aware that the trial was taking place last Monday until after it was under way.
“‘The lawyer was only told to go meet Roxana last Monday,’ he said in a telephone interview. ‘No one knew that they were trying her. Roxana found out 15 minutes into the session that she was being tried.
“‘None of them, neither Roxana nor the lawyer, were ready to defend her.’
“Mr. Saberi said that the trial took less than an hour as he waited outside the courtroom, believing that the lawyer was only meeting his daughter in the presence of the judge.”
So: Saberi didn’t know she was on trial until after the trial started. She met her defense lawyer the very day of her “trial.” Neither Saberi nor her lawyer had any time whatsoever to prepare her defense.
And the proceedings took less than an hour.
No conviction by such a kangaroo court can be believed.
More on the blogburst at Michelle Malkin.