Saturday, March 03, 2007

Why is the press ignoring the arrest of Dr. Sarah Wykes in Angola?

A couple of weeks ago, NPR reported that Sarah Wykes of Global Witness had been arrested in Angola. She was charged with spying and violating the country’s national security.

I’ve been trying to out what is happening to Wykes, but where’s the news? The Global Witness website reported on February 28 that she was released from jail but is not allowed to leave the country and still faces trial, which may not start for a year.

According to a February 20 report on Wykes’ arrest by the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, Dr. Wykes, an experienced researcher into the links between corruption and human rights in resource-rich economies, arrived in Angola on February 11 to meet with local representatives involved in the international campaign for transparency. She was arrested on February 18 and charged with carrying subversive materials.

Yesterday, Ken Silverstein of Harper’s Magazine posted a comment, The Oily Truth, asking the same question about the lack of coverage of Wykes’ arrest, perhaps answering the question with this comment: “Global Witness campaigns for good government and against corruption and has frequently criticized the regime of Jose Eduardo dos Santos for what appears to be the wholesale theft of Angola's oil revenues. Much of that oil, however, is produced by American firms, and dos Santos has even met with President Bush at the White House, where he received support for his 28-year-old regime.”


Silverstein goes on to report: “Senator Biden sent a letter to dos Santos last week that said Wykes's arrest looked to be “an act of intimidation in retaliation for her efforts to promote transparent management of Angola's oil revenues.” Senators Leahy, Obama, Levin, Dodd, Durbin, and Feingold also sent a joint letter to Angola's president in support of Wykes. But there is still no word from any major American news organization. Imagine if Hugo Chavez of Venezuela or Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe jailed a Western democracy activist on trumped-up charges—it would be big news and the diplomatic protests would be deafening. Too bad for Sarah that she challenged a pro-American regime with so much oil.”

2 comments:

jburik said...

Gail,

I think you hit the nail on the head with the general idea that we [read: the press] tend to look with a blind eye toward our "friends" while nit-picking nominal enemies.

I can't keep up with your prolific writing! Good for you.

Anonymous said...

Checking on whether or not a person can post without signing up with Google.