Americans imprisoned abroad almost always find themselves in either North Korea or Iran, usually for violating minor laws. And they're almost always treated as spies, saboteurs, or threats that want to overthrow the government. With incredibly harsh laws about who can enter or leave, these dictatorships treat foreigners caught illegally on their soil with the same cruelty their citizens get - but dressed up for the cameras.
Even an act as simple as bringing forbidden electronics or a Bible has dire consequences for Americans locked up abroad. Many Americans have been held in North Korea on trumped up charges, after being convicted in show trials. Others have been released only at the behest of presidents or other big-time political actors. And Iran has ransomed Americans for huge amounts of money, only after holding them in unbelievably harsh prisons.Here are some of the stories of Americans held in foreign jails, usually for minor crimes. Learn from these people, and maybe rethink your next trip to a country ruled by a brutal dictatorship.