Reporters on the Job

• ART GALLERIES AND SMUGGLERS: Sometimes you get what you need before you know you need it. That's what happened to reporter Arie Farnam, who lives in Prague. A few days before the latest arrest of arms dealers in the Czech Republic came out in the local press, a Ukrainian acquaintance in an art gallery handed Arie a slip of paper with a phone number on it. She was told to call "this Russian who knows about weapons." She stuck it in her file of things to do someday and temporarily forgot about it.

"When the Czech press reported that two people had been arrested for smuggling arms to 'unnamed Middle Eastern countries,' it struck me as strange," she says. "Why would they be using Prague? Why were the police too cagey to say even where the weapons were supposed to be going? I started poking around and was rebuffed at every turn. No one either in Prague or in other countries wanted to discuss the case. Then I remembered the phone number.

"I called and met the fellow, a very ordinary Russian with a round paunch and soft voice, in a quaint pub near Prague Castle. It took four hours of careful discussion and persuasion but, in the end, he told me what he knew about the weapons trade. It wasn't everything I needed to know, but it was enough to put my feet on the right path and lead to today's story" about smuggling weapons to Iraq (page 1).

• A TRUSTWORTHY FACE : The trial of three Guatemalan military officers (page 7) is being conducted under the tightest security. At the front door of the courthouse in Guatemala City, there is a metal detector and there are guards at a table who check IDs and search bags.

On her first trip to the courtroom at the start of the trial, reporter Catherine Elton noticed some Roman Catholic nuns – dressed in full habit – going in to watch the proceedings. Catherine waited while they walked through the metal detectors and had their bags searched.

"When I got up to the table, I showed them my Foreign Press Club card, which identifies me as a journalist with The Christian Science Monitor. They said, 'Oh, you are a journalist?' I said 'yes,' and they said 'right this way,' without checking my bag, or making me go through the metal detector." Catherine wonders, "Does that make me more trustworthy than a nun?"

David Clark Scott
World editor

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