Posted by: sean | October 10, 2008

American journalists found in Syria

It seems that the two American journalists on vacation in Lebanon from Jordan have been found. They apparently tried to sneak into Syria by paying smugglers to take them across the border without going through a border crossing.

The LA Times story I linked to above states that Americans can’t get visas at the border, but that’s not true. Americans can get visas at the Syrian borders with Lebanon and Jordan, but it usually takes 2-3 hours, or sometimes much longer.

It’s hard to say if they heard that they couldn’t get visas or just didn’t want to wait at the border, but the whole story is pretty stupid, because once they got into Syria, they’d also have to exit illegally. And even if they managed to cross into Jordan illegally to go home, they wouldn’t have an entrance stamp on their passports, so there’s a good chance that they’d run into problems with the Jordanian authorities the next time they tried to leave the country.

Many people in Beirut were worried about them, fearing that they’d been kidnapped by salafist thugs in the north. Now it seems that the whole situation is entirely their fault. In addition to that, their obviously suspicious (and illegal) behavior will probably make it even more difficult for American journalists to work in Syria and for American travelers to get into Syria without a visa from the embassy in Washington. All for what? Bragging rights that they crossed illegally into Syria?

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