Are We Supposed To Be Impressed By This?

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on April 19, 2009

Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has pledged himself to the minimum standards of decency when it comes to the case of Roxana Saberi:

Iran’s president said Sunday that an American journalist convicted of spying for the U.S. should be allowed to offer a full defense during her appeal, a day after she was sentenced to eight years in prison.

The message was a sign that Iran’s leadership does not want the case to derail moves toward a dialogue with the Obama administration to break a 30-year diplomatic deadlock.

Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent a letter to Tehran’s chief prosecutor instructing him to personally ensure that “suspects be given all their rights to defend themselves” against the charges. “Prepare for the court proceedings … to observe and apply justice precisely,” the state news agency IRNA quoted him as saying.

saberi4501Wow. How very unimpressive. Saberi got a one day trial in which she was utterly unable to defend herself and was pressured to make incriminating statements about herself in the run-up to the trial. It’s a little late for the Islamic regime to be interested in ensuring that justice is done, unless the regime is prepared to admit that it had and has no basis whatsoever for believing in the first place that Saberi was engaged in espionage. Additionally, if Khamenei, Ahmadinejad and the rest of the government are genuinely interested in better relations with the United States, they will stop detaining Saberi, and other Iranian-Americans. Otherwise, there is no reason whatsoever that the Islamic regime’s intentions should be doubted.

It is, of course, incredible that we should be having this discussion. There is no question that Iran wants to engender a change in the stance of the United States towards it. One would have thought that the Saberi case would have been seen as a chance for the regime to show that it is serious about pursuing and implementing such a change by treating Saberi in a humane manner, and stating that it wants the Saberi case to serve as a positive model for future cooperation between the United States and Iran. But apparently, what Abba Eban said about the Palestinians, applies to the Islamic regime as well; it never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

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