As speculation intensifies that Pres. Barack Obama will dispatch New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson to North Korea to negotiate the release of imprisoned journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling, the coordinator of a Santa Fe-based prisoner rights organization is criticizing the media attention given to what she considers the reporters' "short" sentences.
"I find it very ironic that so many people have expressed dismay at the 12-year sentences that two women reporters who have been convicted by North Korea have gotten," Coalition for Prisoner Rights Coordinator Mara Taub tells the Santa Fe Reporter. "I mean, that is a SHORT sentence in the United States."
Lee and Ling were found guilty of illegally breaching the North Korean border with China. The North Korean Central Court sentenced the two Current TV journalists on Monday to 12 years in a labor camp, a fate that some believe is nothing short of fatal. Nevertheless, Taub says it's hypocritical for the US media to focus on this case while ignoring problems with the domestic prison system.
"There are all kinds of people who, for convictions for non-violent crimes, are doing way more than 12 years," Taub says. "So, why do we only care about what happens far away? Why don't we care what's happening right here? That goes not only for length of sentence, but also prison conditions and also torture."