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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/23/13

Let Roger Shuler Go Before Christmas -- The Only Journalist Held Indefinitely In The US

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Message JillSimpson JimSimpson
The Committee to Protect Journalists who are defending journalists worldwide recently announced their 2013 list of reporters imprisoned illegally around the world.  As to be expected Turkey, Iran and China were at the top of the list but shamefully this time the USofA made the list as well due to the jailing of an Internet blogger named Roger Shuler in the state of Alabama.

Roger has been a key documenter of corruption in the United States since he took on the Don Siegelman story in 2007 and he has never let up.  Roger has recently vowed from his jail cell that he will not retract the statements he has made about Rob Riley, son of recent former Governor Bob Riley.  So what we are left with in America is a journalist indefinitely incarcerated by a specially appointed retired judge not duly elected to decide this case who was appointed by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore known famously as the "10 Commandments" judge who was removed from the bench due to his mixture of church and state but re-elected by popular vote.

Roger was arrested for failing to appear before the court at a hearing and just a few weeks after being arrested was found guilty of allegedly defaming Rob Riley.  Roger has this entire time maintained his innocence but had to do so while incarcerated without the assistance of legal counsel and as a result judge Claude Neilson has held him in contempt of court and has closed all records so it impossible for people to know exactly what has gone on in Roger's case.  Very few people were allowed into the hearing and according to press reports many people were denied entrance.  It almost appears as though the procedures at Guantanamo Bay have been copied to suppress Roger Shuler in a politically charged case having nothing to do with terrorism.

This action in Alabama has scared many journalists around the United States as they fear that the Riley/Rove gang will use this tactic in the future against other journalists to suppress First Amendment free speech rights regarding what is going on in the United States.

I have been traveling for several weeks now in Europe and have been amazed at how journalists worldwide are growing increasingly concerned about the freedom of the press in the United States, and many have mentioned Roger Shuler's case as he is the only American journalist on the list so far.  It has also been noted by the press worldwide and an ACLU amicus brief that Judge Neilson's ruling violates existing standards on "prior restraint" of speech laid down by the US Supreme Court.

What concerns me about Roger Shuler's case is how they are indefinitely holding him.  Clearly, if they want to punish Roger they should give him a sentence but instead it appears that in America these days we can now hold people for any amount of time if they do not do as the court wishes.  So Roger sits in a jail cell in Shelby County Alabama with no knowledge of when he is to get out.  Journalists all over the world are beginning to pick up his story as it appears this is the first time we have seen a journalist in the United States be treated like a Guantanamo Bay alleged terrorist.  It is very Kafka-esque because we have a specially appointed non-elected judge, a secret hearing and sealed records.  This is a nightmare for Roger Shuler's wife Carol and I'm sure any assistance anyone can give her would be welcome during this holiday season while her husband is indefinitely incarcerated in these United States because he refuses to take down a story he swears is true. 

If we as citizens allow this to stand then we cannot complain about getting subverted media in the US.  It is my request that everyone who reads this asks 100 friends to write and call Chief Justice Roy Moore at 334-229-0700 (address listed below) and ask him to show the Christian mercy he professes all over Alabama towards the only imprisoned journalist in the US, Roger Shuler.

As for Rob Riley, his attempt to suppress Roger's stories whether true or not has made him worldwide infamous for being the first to succeed at jailing an opposition journalist in the United States.  It is frightening to think about Riley running for congress given this situation and Riley's questionable actions on the rights of journalists.

If Riley keeps Shuler in jail his entire election campaign it is going to dash all hopes of any Presidential plans he has in the future as worldwide, journalists will be watching and will be sharpening their pens for the guy that put the only US journalist of 2013 in jail that wrote about Riley.  Having been a longtime watcher of Alabama voters, it is unlikely the voters of this state will be able to stomach Riley's actions to suppress the press, but it is also impossible that the voters of the entire US will do so.

It is long past time for Rob Riley to let Roger Shuler go, after these last two months of incarceration.  As a Seminarian I am asking Rob Riley to let Roger go.  Haven't you punished him enough?  It is Christmas -- where are your Christian values that allegedly allow you to forgive others?  Put another way: Rob Riley, do you really want the world to know you for this case?

Dana Jill Simpson


Contact info for Chief Justice Roy Moore:
Justice Roy Moore
C/O Supreme Court Clerk
300 Dexter Ave
Montgomery, AL 36104
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Jill Simpson is a lawyer from Alabama who represents government contractors and who was a whistleblower in the Don Siegelman case; she has a Master's in Religion and Philosophy from CIIS where she focused on the study of Themis and justice. She (more...)

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