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RFE/RL Welcomes Return of Azima Passport, Anticipates Return to Freedom

(Washington, DC -- September 5, 2007) RFE/RL and its parent organization, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) welcomed the return yesterday of Radio Farda broadcaster Parnaz Azima's passport by Iranian authorities and look forward to her anticipated return to freedom.

RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin said, "We are very glad that Parnaz's long ordeal in Iran will soon come to an end. The return of her passport brings us much closer to the day when she can be reunited with her children and newborn grandson, as well as her colleagues at Radio Farda."

BBG Chairman James Glassman said, "I am pleased that the Iranian government has decided to release the passport of Parnaz Azima. Azima embodies the commitment of the staff of Radio Farda, and all U.S. international broadcasters, to the fair and impartial transmission of news to audiences denied access to such journalism."

During an interview yesterday with Radio Farda, Azima said she was told when picking up her passport that her travel ban has been lifted. However, she added, representatives of Iran's Intelligence Ministry told her this past Monday (September 2) that the deed to her mother's house, which was offered in lieu of $550,000 in bail, will not be returned at this time "and my case would stay open for now." It is not clear when the case will be heard in court; according to Azima, "I can't make any predictions how my case will be resolved."

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 acting against Iranian national security as well as spreading anti-Iranian propaganda spreading anti-state propaganda by working for "counterrevolutionary" Radio Farda. Azima rejects the charges, asserting she was simply doing her job as a journalist.

An English translation of Radio Farda's interview with Parnaz Azima can be read on the RFE/RL website, as well as an article summarizing the latest developments in her case. 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.