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Iran takes one more U.S. hostage


If the mainstream media have been paying only slight attention to the plight of Bob Levinson, they've been paying even less to Iran's illegal detention—since January 25—of American journalist Parnaz Azima.

From the AP wire:

The U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said Saturday Iranian authorities have prevented one of its journalists from leaving the country.

Parnaz Azima, who is based in Prague where she works for Radio Farda — RFE/RL's Persian service operated jointly with the Voice of America radio broadcaster — arrived in the capital, Tehran, on Jan. 25 to visit a sick relative, the broadcaster said in an e-mailed statement.

On arrival, authorities seized her Iranian passport and so far have failed to return it to her, it said. It was not clear what the reason was. The statement said Azima was once asked to cooperate with Iran's intelligence services, which she refused.

Azima has dual Iranian and U.S. citizenship, the radio said.

"I call on the Iranian authorities to return Ms. Azima's passport and to allow her to leave Iran without further delay," said Jeffrey Gedmin, the broadcaster's president. "There is no reason to prevent this talented journalist from returning to her professional duties immediately."

RFE/RL is a private, nonprofit corporation that receives funding from the U.S. government. It was established in 1949 to spread pro-Western news and promote democratic values and institutions in countries behind the Iron Curtain.

The station moved its headquarters to Prague from Munich, Germany, in 1995, after the collapse of communism.

It has broadcast in 28 languages to 20 countries, including Iran and Iraq since 1998, and Afghanistan from 2002.

In the past, Iran put diplomatic and trade pressure on the Czech government to end Radio Farda's programming, the U.S. Ambassador to Prague, Richard Graber, said recently.

You'd think that, at the very least, the journalistic community would be outraged by Ms. Azima's illegal detention. Yet on the website of the Committee to Protect Journalists—an organization allegedly dedicated to "defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal"—there is nary a mention of her name. Ditto for the like-minded Reporters Without Borders.

Perhaps, in their view, the fact that she works for a news organization that "receives funding from the U.S. government" makes her less than a full-fledged journalist. (Yet for some reason, this rule doesn't seem to apply to the government-funded British Broadcasting Corporation.)

Regardless, Parnaz Azima—courageous journalist and U.S. citizen—is now a prisoner of a piratical Teheran regime.

And few people beyond Ms. Azima's friends and family seem to be taking much notice.

Don't forget to sign the Free Bobby! petition.

Posted by Rodger on April 17, 2007 at 05:27 AM | Permalink


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