Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another Yvonne Ridley in the making?

Claudia Rosett writes that the two journalists, sent by Al Gore to get stories about North Korea and subsequently rescued by former President Clinton, may well be getting rather juicy advances for their "story", which is unlikely to be entirely truthful.

There is an interesting discussion that follows if one ignores the resident trolls. Pajamas Media has about half a dozen that turn up on every thread. I hope it makes their lives worthwhile.

This is not the first time journalists go into oppressive countries, get caught, imprisoned and are rescued. Remember Yvonne Ridley, captured by the Taliban, then released, who has become a Muslim convert and a member of the Respect Party? Nobody ever found out what happened to her guides who had taken her into Afghanistan.

In the same way, Ms Rosett is right to point out that the girls may well have had information on them when they were captured that could well have led to the arrest and deportation of North Korean refugees. Various organixations in the field are worried about that. And what happened to the Chinese who helped the two hackettes? I don't suppose former President Clinton will rush to their rescue if they are in trouble.

What of their book, articles and probable lecture tour? I have no real objection to them making money out of what seems to have been a stunt that went temporarily wrong for them but I agree with Ms Rosett: they are unlikely to tell the truth even if they know it. There is much to be said for the testimony of witnesses. It's just I do not think Ms Laura Ling and Ms Euna Lee are exactly witnesses in the old sense of the word. Not in the way Whittaker Chambers or Margarete Buber-Neumann meant it. The money they will get is the least of it. I do think, however, that it would be a graceful gesture on their part and some indication of good will if they contributed some of what they will receive (earning, I suspect, does not come into it as the book is unlikely to sell well for any length of time) towards one of the organizations that are trying to help North Korean refugees and to disseminate genuine information about that unhappy country.

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