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Iranian Government to Take Radio Farda Journalist to Court

(Prague, Czech Republic--June 11, 2007) Iranian government officials have informed lawyers for Radio Farda correspondent Parnaz Azima that they will not return her passport and that her case will have to be decided in court.

Her lawyer, Mohammad-Hossein Aqasi, told RFE/RL by phone from Tehran Sunday that the Iranian Information Ministry declined the latest request to return her passport, confiscated five months ago and will refer the matter to the Judiciary. Aqasi said it could take months for the first court session to convene.

Azima, prevented by Iranian authorities from leaving Iran since January, last week described her status to RFE/RL in a June 6 interview "as a prisoner who is in a larger prison and the length of the prison term has not been determined."

A citizen of both the U.S. and Iran, Azima had her Iranian passport confiscated on arrival in Tehran in January to visit her ailing mother. She has been charged with spreading anti-state propaganda by working for "counterrevolutionary" Radio Farda. Azima was not jailed after paying what she described as "a very heavy and unprecedented bail of about 500 million tooman (approximately US$550,000)." Azima rejects the charges, asserting she was simply doing her job as a journalist and expressed optimism the Iranian authorities would complete their investigation and return her passport.

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.