Sunday, July 18, 2010

US ambassador to Kuwait pledges to give a local daily $5,000 for every journalist detained by the US

I hadn't heard about this.  Now I have.

US ambassador to Kuwait pledges to give a local daily $5,000 for every journalist detained by the US

The US ambassador to Kuwait has pledged to give a local newspaper $5,000 for every journalist detained by the US authorities for his or her political views.

Deborah K. Jones made the pledge to Kuwaiti daily Al Rai as she dismissed claims about a contrast in the US human rights policy when the US criticized Kuwait for detaining activist Mohammad Al Jassem allegedly for his voicing views, while the US cable news network CNN at the same time dismissed Octavia Nasr, Senior Editor of Middle East Affairs, for expressing her opinion of Shiite leader Mohammad Husain Fadhallah.

“They will not put the CNN newswoman in prison,” Jones said. “CNN is a private company and has its own policy. It has the right to fire any employee whose stances clash with its policy,” the ambassador said, quoted by the daily.

Reacting to Jones’ statement, bloggers urged her to comment on the existence of Communication Management Units (CMUs), the “designation for a self-contained group within US prisons that severely restricts, manages and monitors all outside communication (telephone, mail and visitation) of inmates in the unit.”

Other bloggers referred to the imprisonment of Al Jazeera Sudanese cameramen Sami El Hadj who was arrested in 2001 and held in extrajudicial detention at Guantanamo Bay camp until he was released without charge on May 1, 2008.

Another blogger said that he wanted to remind the US ambassador of Joshua Wolf, 28, the American journalist who was jailed by a Federal district court in 2006 for refusing to turn over a collection of videotapes he recorded during a July 2005 demonstration in San Francisco. Wolf spent 226 days in prison at the Federal Correctional Institution, Dublin, California, longer than any other journalist in US history has served for protecting source materials.

Judith Miller’s time in prison was also mentioned by a blogger in comments over the ambassador’s statement.

Ambassador Jones, the fifteenth US ambassador to Kuwait since Kuwaiti independence in 1961, arrived in Kuwait on April 19, 2008.

She has been with the Department of State since 1982 and speaks Arabic, Spanish and French. She is married to Richard G. Olson, the US Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates. They have two daughters.

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