James Buck is a journalism student at UC Berkely. When he was in Egypt, he and his translator were jailed. Buck text messaged his way out of prison, but his translator is still there.
I’ve never tried to report on political unrest or war, but I have had to enlist the help of many kind-hearted translators over the last few years. Most of them are college students who I meet by going to the local university and trying to sucker someone into helping me. I would feel awful if I got them in trouble.
Buck feels awful. He writes about his ongoing, guilt-ridden nightmare here.
Mohammed Maree (pronouned mar-EYE) is a student of veterinary medicine. He’s a kind man with a quiet, gentle voice who held my hand as we ran through the streets under police siege. When we got hit with tear gas, Mohammed negotiated safe houses for us to go in and wash our eyes. He always worried about my camera. When a passing train a few feet away was hit with rocks and I cowered in fear, he covered my body with his.
Mohammed was not a journalist before his home city erupted in riots and he saw me, a frightened American kid being roughed up by a crowd of protesters. He yanked me away and guided me to safety. When I couldn’t understand people’s distressed cries in Arabic (which was most of the time), he translated. It’s still unclear what his motivation was for helping me, at such a high personal risk. He once vaguely suggested he was merely returning a favor, “When I was in America, someone helped me.”
Update: I just found this. Buck credits Twitter with expediting his release. (Note to self: Get twitter account)