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Outcry Prompts Apology To Radio Farda Reporter At Rome Food Summit

(Washington, DC–June 6, 2008) Radio Farda Rome correspondent Ahmad Rafat received an apology from the organizers of this week’s World Food Security Summit in Rome, after an international outcry forced the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to reverse an earlier decision to strip Rafat of his accreditation for the conference. Rafat tells RFE/RL that he believes the FAO barred him from the event at the request of the Iranian government.

In addition to complaints by Italian and U.S. diplomats, numerous Italian politicians and European Parliament Vice President Mario Mauro, media freedom organizations and media outlets provided extensive coverage of Rafat’s ordeal. All major newspapers in Italy covered the story, including Corriere Della Sera, La Stampa, Il Riformista, Il Sole 24 Ore, La Repubblica and Avvenire, as did the Los Angeles Times, Canada’s Globe and Mail and the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad and the news wires AFP and DPA. Media defense organizations that spoke out on Rafat’s behalf included the Italian Publishers’ Association (FIEG), the Foreign Press Club of Rome, the Italian journalists’ union Federazione della Stampa Italiana (FNSI) and the Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists.

Rafat is deputy director of the Italian news agency Adnkronos International and a reporter with RFE/RL’s Radio Farda. Radio Farda, an RFE/RL joint venture with the Voice of America, broadcasts in Persian to Iran 24 hours a day, seven days a week.