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Radio Farda Correspondent Trapped in Iran ‘Indefinitely’

(Prague, Czech Republic–August 27, 2007) Iranian authorities have said Radio Farda correspondent Parnaz Azima, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen trapped in Iran since January, will have to stay in Iran indefinitely.

Azima’s lawyer, Mohammad Hossein Aqasi, told Radio Farda in an exclusive interview by phone from Tehran Sunday, August 26, that: “officials who decide about the case … have emphasized that she should stay in Iran for now,” and indicated this will be “for an indefinite period of time, depending on international relations — that means ties between Iran and the U.S.”

Aqasi said Iranian authorities have added a new charge against Azima, accusing her of acting against Iranian national security, in addition to the earlier charge of spreading anti-Iranian propaganda because of Azima’s employment with the U.S.-funded Radio Farda. However, Aqasi said the case is at an early stage and there is no indication it will go to court: “there is a decision that Mrs. Azima will remain in Iran without the charges being pursued.”

In a separate telephone interview Sunday, Azima told Radio Farda she is finding it increasingly difficult to deal with the uncertainty and pressure: “It’s hard to put up with this when you don’t know for how long you will be living in a temporary situation … my grandchild will be born soon in the United States. I wanted to be there for the birth … medical treatment I was getting was interrupted when I suddenly came to Iran to take care of my ailing mother.” Azima said she felt she was under constant surveillance, and she feels that probably her phone calls are monitored and her friends are now afraid to visit.

Azima said she was told her situation could be resolved if she resigned from Radio Farda,but she refused to do so: “it is my individual right to decide where to work or not to work, or to resign or not to resign. This cannot be dictated, therefore I rejected the suggestion,” she said.

Azima’s Iranian passport was confiscated on her arrival in Tehran in January to visit her ailing mother.

The full text of RFE/RL’s interview with Radio Farda correspondent Parnaz Azima may be read on the RFE/RL website. To learn more about the Azima case, visit the “Soft Hostages in Iran” page on RFE/RL’s website.

Azima is a broadcaster with Radio Farda, the joint RFE/RL-Voice of America 24-hour, seven day a week Persian-language broadcast service to Iran. She joined RFE/RL in 1998 and is based at RFE/RL’s broadcast headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic.