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Working for Radio Farda A Crime in Iran

(PRAGUE, Czech Republic ) A Tehran appeals court has upheld an earlier ruling that working for RFE/RL’s Persian Service, Radio Farda, is a crime. Last month, the court reconsidered the case of Radio Farda journalist Parnaz (Nazy) Azima, who, in March, was sentenced in absentia to a year in prison for her “anti-government propaganda.”

The appeals court reversed its decision to seize the deed to the home of Azima’s 95 year-old mother, which the government had been holding in lieu of bail. It also ruled to suspend Azima’s one-year sentence for two years, during which time any transgression of Iranian law or any attempt to enter Iran, will automatically lead to her arrest. However, the court upheld the March verdict against Azima, which accused the journalist of “continuous activities against national security” by working for the “anti-government network of [Radio] Farda.”

“The restoration of the deed on Parnaz’s mother’s house is a victory for Nazy’s family and the only remotely decent act in what has otherwise been a brutish and blatantly political assault on media freedom and human rights,” said RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin. “That Nazy’s actual sentence was affirmed, and in effect extended, makes it clear that working for a foreign media organization in Iran, and Radio Farda specifically, is a crime.”

In an interview given to Radio Farda shortly after her initial conviction in March, Azima, a librarian and literary translator who holds both Iranian and U.S. citizenship, said: “As a professional journalist who believes in the free flow of information, informing people in Iran is my main duty and is in the interest of Iran.” Azima currently lives in Prague where she continues to report on political, social and cultural issues for Radio Farda.

RFE/RL’s Persian-language Service, Radio Farda, provides objective and accurate news and information to Iranians in order to counter state censorship and ideology-based media coverage. Radio Farda’s new website was launched in 2006 and receives over 3 million page views every month.