Free Paul Salopek

A few weeks ago, after reading Chicago Tribune reporter Paul Salopek's tour-de-force piece on the origins of the fuel at your local gas station, I linked to the piece here on Passport and praised Salopek's ingenuity in asking (and answering) a simple, but elegant question about the journey oil takes from the ground to refineries ...

A few weeks ago, after reading Chicago Tribune reporter Paul Salopek's tour-de-force piece on the origins of the fuel at your local gas station, I linked to the piece here on Passport and praised Salopek's ingenuity in asking (and answering) a simple, but elegant question about the journey oil takes from the ground to refineries and on to your gas tank. I made a mental note to look out for Salopek's next story.

But now Salopek is sitting in a Sudanese jail, charged with being a spy after illegally entering the country's Darfur region from Chad while on assignment with National Geographic. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner was captured three weeks ago by a militant group allied with the government, handed over to the Sudanese Army, and held without outside contact until about 10 days ago, when Khartoum infomed the local U.S. embassy of his arrest for espionage. He could face jail time. A Slovenian filmmaker was sentenced earlier this month to two years in prison on charges similar to those Salopek faces.

The Chicago Tribune and National Geographic are working to secure Salopek's release, but it's unclear if they'll have any sucess. Better still would be to get someone in the State Department to exert some serious pressure on Khartoum. With Salopek's trial coming in less than two weeks, time is running out. 

A few weeks ago, after reading Chicago Tribune reporter Paul Salopek's tour-de-force piece on the origins of the fuel at your local gas station, I linked to the piece here on Passport and praised Salopek's ingenuity in asking (and answering) a simple, but elegant question about the journey oil takes from the ground to refineries and on to your gas tank. I made a mental note to look out for Salopek's next story.

But now Salopek is sitting in a Sudanese jail, charged with being a spy after illegally entering the country's Darfur region from Chad while on assignment with National Geographic. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner was captured three weeks ago by a militant group allied with the government, handed over to the Sudanese Army, and held without outside contact until about 10 days ago, when Khartoum infomed the local U.S. embassy of his arrest for espionage. He could face jail time. A Slovenian filmmaker was sentenced earlier this month to two years in prison on charges similar to those Salopek faces.

The Chicago Tribune and National Geographic are working to secure Salopek's release, but it's unclear if they'll have any sucess. Better still would be to get someone in the State Department to exert some serious pressure on Khartoum. With Salopek's trial coming in less than two weeks, time is running out. 

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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