William Nathan Oatis (January 4, 1914 – September 16, 1997) was an American journalist who gained international attention when he was charged with espionage by the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic in 1951. He was subsequently jailed until 1953.
William N. Oatis
Oatis in 1953
William Nathan Oatis
January 4, 1914
|Died||September 16, 1997 (aged 83)|
|Occupation||Associated Press bureau chief in Prague|
|George Polk Award (1952)|
President, UN Correspondents Association, (1970)
Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame (1992)
|Spouse(s)||Laurabelle Zack Oatis|
|Children||Jonathan Oatis, Jeremy Oatis|
Born in Marion, Indiana, Oatis began his journalism career with his high school newspaper, studied at DePauw University for one year and in 1933 returned to Marion, where he worked for the Leader-Tribune. In 1937, he started working for the Associated Press in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Oatis served in the U.S. Army during World War II, studying Japanese at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. In 1950, he married Laurabelle Zack, who worked in the AP's reference library in New York. The marriage took place in London.
Oatis was working as the AP bureau chief in Prague, Czechoslovakia, when he was arrested on April 23, 1951. Deprived of sleep and subjected to continuous interrogation for 42 hours, Oatis signed a statement confessing to the charge of espionage. The case made international headlines, as well as leading to trade and travel embargos against Czechoslovakia. On July 4, 1951, a Czechoslovak court sentenced Oatis to ten years in prison. He was released May 16, 1953, shortly after the death of Joseph Stalin and after an angry letter from President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the Czechoslovak government. The Czechoslovak government said it had been moved to pardon Oatis by a poignant plea from Oatis' wife, Laurabelle. Oatis contracted tuberculosis during his imprisonment and sought treatment shortly after his release. A Czechoslovak court cleared him of all charges in 1959, but the decision was reversed in 1968 after the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1990, after Czechoslovakia's "Velvet Revolution" the previous year, he was cleared again.
|William Oatis steps off plane with his wife Laurabelle in New York after his release in 1953. Life photo by Yale Joel.|
|William and Laurabelle Oatis meet reporters in New York after his release in 1953. Life photo by Yale Joel.|
|William Oatis interviewing Audrey Hepburn, 1953.|
|William Oatis at the United Nations.|
Oatis went on to cover the United Nations for three decades and retired in 1984 after a 47-year career at the AP. He was elected president of the United Nations Correspondents Association in 1970. In 1992, Oatis was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.
Oatis died September 16, 1997 at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn, New York from complications of Alzheimer's disease. He was survived by his sons Jonathan and Jeremy. His wife Laurabelle died of natural causes on June 19, 2012, at the age of 88.
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The Associated Press (AP) is a U.S.-based not-for-profit news agency headquartered in New York City. Founded in 1846, it operates as a cooperative, unincorporated association. Its members are U.S. newspapers and broadcasters. Its Statement of News Values and Principles spells out its standards and practices.The AP has earned 52 Pulitzer Prizes, including 31 for photography, since the award was established in 1917.
The AP has counted the vote in U.S. elections since 1848, including national, state and local races down to the legislative level in all 50 states, along with key ballot measures. AP collects and verifies returns in every county, parish, city and town across the U.S., and declares winners in over 5,000 contests.
The AP news report, distributed to its members and customers, is produced in English, Spanish and Arabic. AP content is also available on the agency's app, AP News. A 2017 study by NewsWhip revealed that AP content was more engaged with on Facebook than content from any individual English-language publisher.As of 2016, news collected by the AP was published and republished by more than 1,300 newspapers and broadcasters. The AP operates 263 news bureaus in 106 countries. It also operates the AP Radio Network, which provides newscasts twice hourly for broadcast and satellite radio and television stations. Many newspapers and broadcasters outside the United States are AP subscribers, paying a fee to use AP material without being contributing members of the cooperative. As part of their cooperative agreement with the AP, most member news organizations grant automatic permission for the AP to distribute their local news reports. The AP employs the "inverted pyramid" formula for writing which enables the news outlets to edit a story to fit its available publication area without losing the story's essentials.
Cutbacks at rival United Press International in 1993 left the AP as the United States' primary news service, although UPI still produces and distributes stories and photos daily. Other English-language news services, such as the BBC, Reuters and the English-language service of Agence France-Presse, are based outside the United States.Habeas corpus
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This list of DePauw University alumni includes notable alumni of DePauw University, an American institution of higher education located in Greencastle, Indiana.List of University of Minnesota people
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Marion is a city in Grant County, Indiana, United States. The population was 29,948 as of the 2010 census. The city is the county seat of Grant County. It is named for Francis Marion, a Brigadier General from South Carolina in the American Revolutionary War.
The city is the home of Indiana Wesleyan University, the largest evangelical Christian university in the Midwest and largest private university in Indiana—if including online and regional campuses in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Illinois. The traditional campus enrolls approximately 2800 students. Since 2016, Jess Alumbaugh has been Marion's mayor.
Marion is the birthplace of actor James Dean, and cartoonist Jim Davis. It was the location of the wedding of actress Julia Roberts and singer Lyle Lovett in 1993.In August 1930, the spectacle lynching of two African-American men, Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, was committed by a mob of 5,000 whites at the courthouse square. These were the last two lynchings in Indiana. James Cameron was threatened with hanging, but spared.Timeline of events in the Cold War
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