What a Difference

The news today is that two US citizens who were tried in Iran for espionage have been sentenced to eight years in prison.  Photographs of them show them in regular looking clothes with a lawyer.  They can appeal the decision.

  Shane Bauer (L) and Josh Fattal (C)

Frankly, I am unable to say what the merits of the case might be.  A woman who was with them and was released on bail, Sarah Shourd, says that they were hiking in Iraq and strayed over into Iran, which may well be true.  Their lawyer, Masoud Shafii, says the case is purely political.  There is no mention of torture or abuse in the article I read in the Guardian.

If in fact they were just hiking and crossed an unmarked border, this is indeed a gross injustice.  It is not of the magnitude, however, of that done to the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, who were sold by bounty hunters, many of them legitimately going about their business and almost none of them having done any harm to the US or anyone.  They were denied even lawyers for years, were all tortured and are still abused.

Almost none of the remaining prisoners at Guantanamo have had trials, though many of them have been cleared for release by US military authorities and some have won habeas corpus petitions.  They are imprisoned indefinitely without charge.  At least Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal have been tried, can appeal, and, if they lose on appeal, a prison term that will end.

I am opposed to all injustice.  I cannot fail to see that the injustice done by the US to the prisoners in Guantanamo and in its black sites around the world is worse than what might be done to Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal.  And as for Sarah Shourd, unlike even one prisoner at Guantanamo, since none of them can post bail, if she never returns to Iraq, though the bail money will be lost, she is not likely to be concerned with this again, unless Iran were to engage international police to force her to return.  Iran does not, unlike the US, have hit lists of persons whom it executes without trial anywhere in the world and agents empowered to perform those executions.

Can we not see what the US has become? There is no doubt that most of the rest of the world sees it clearly.

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One Response to “What a Difference”

  1. nancy Says:

    Amnesty International is reported in the Guardian today that it finds this trial a “mockery of justice.”

    While that may well be true, it is still not so injust as holding prisoners without charge indefinitely, which the US is doing, even those whom US judges have ruled to be no threat to the US.

    I do not defend the decision against the two US citizens. I just note the differences between what has happend to them and what the US has done to the 779 prisoners at Guantanamo and who knows how many others in black sites around the world.

    Here is the link to the Guardian article:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/aug/22/jailed-us-hikers-iran-amnesty

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