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Heard This Week - 04/19/2007

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- April 19, 2007) Radio Farda provided listeners and website visitors updates on the fate of their colleague, correspondent Parnaz Azima, who has not been allowed to leave Iran for the last two months; broadcast an exclusive interview with U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack; continued its coverage of developments concerning the Iranian government's nuclear efforts; and reported on Iranian government efforts to suppress protests by women's rights and student activists.

>> Radio Farda provided extensive coverage of the plight of Radio Farda journalist Parnaz Azima, who has been kept from leaving Iran since her arrival there in late January to visit with her sick mother. According to an April 14 Radio Farda report, Azima's passport was seized by immigration officials on her arrival at the airport in Tehran; in the process of trying to reclaim her passport, Azima has been asked to collaborate with Iran's intelligence services -- an offer she rejected. RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin was quoted in the report as calling on Iranian officials to return Parnaz Azima's passport and allowing her to leave the country without further delay (
During a telephone interview from Tehran, Parnaz Azima told Radio Farda on April 16 that her attempts to reclaim her Iranian passport have been useless so far. Azima told Radio Farda listeners that officials told her they were looking for a CD containing unspecified information; "I didn't know what they were talking about and asked them to search my belongings; they did so and found nothing" (
On April 17, Radio Farda interviewed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, the lawyer representing Parnaz Azima in her efforts to reclaim her passport. Ebadi told Radio Farda, "In our laws, we have no punishment that includes seizing a passport, especially when the charges against a person are not clear." Ebadi stressed that Azima's passport should be returned to her (

>> On April 16 and 17, Radio Farda's "Evening Magazine" aired an exclusive interview with U.S. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack, who said, "if the Iranian regime changes its policies, its behavior, they can have a different relationship with the U.S. and the rest of the world, but as to who governs Iran, that should be something left to the Iranian people in a free, fair transparent electoral process." Expressing appreciation of Iran's culture, history and art as well as of the views of the Iranian people, McCormack emphasized that the U.S. has no differences with the people of Iran: "We would hope that the Iranian people will speak out to their government and make it clear to them that, while they want peaceful nuclear energy, they do not support the pursuit of nuclear weapons at the cost of ruining Iran's relationship with the rest of the world" (;

>> On April 15, Radio Farda reported International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Mohamed ElBaradei's statement that, while no proof exists to demonstrate that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, it is worrying that, even after three years of investigation, the IAEA cannot confirm the peaceful intent of Iran's nuclear program. ElBaradei also noted that a military strike on Iran would have grave consequences (
Radio Farda also reported, on April 16, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated assertion that Iran will continue its nuclear program: "The Iranian nation will stand up for its legal right and will not retreat even one iota to preserve its nuclear right" (

>> Radio Farda reported on April 18 that the Sixth Branch of Tehran's Revolutionary Court sentenced women's rights activist Fariba Davoudi Mohajer to one year of discretionary imprisonment with an additional three years of imprisonment suspended, as well as her colleague Sussan Tahmassebi, who was sentenced to six months of discretionary imprisonment with an additional 18 months of imprisonment suspended (

>> Radio Farda reported on April 16 the arrest, by plainclothes law enforcement personnel, of 15 students at Mazandaran University in northern Iran. Ali Azizi of the student organization the Office to Consolidate Unity told Radio Farda the arrested students had been protesting the illegal detention of another student. Azizi also said the campus at Mazandaran University had been especially tense and uneasy for the past several days, because of the presence of law enforcement forces outside the university (
On April 17, Radio Farda quoted an ILNA report in which Habibollah Halimi, the head of admissions and security affairs at Mazandaran University said nine of the 15 detained students had been released, after written commitments were filed by their parents (

For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit: -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran

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