Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda
(Washington, DC -- August 30, 2007) Radio Farda featured exclusive interviews with trapped correspondent Parnaz Azima and her lawyer about developments in her case, a Tehran-based journalist about the release from prison of Iranian-American academic Haleh Esfandiari, and a roundtable offering several views on the current state of U.S.-Iran relations.
� Mohammad Hossein Aqasi, the lawyer representing Radio Farda journalist Parnaz Azima, who has been prevented from leaving Iran since January, told Radio Farda that Azima will likely be kept in Iran for the foreseeable future. In an exclusive interview on August 28, Aqasi told Radio Farda that Azima now faces charges of against the national security of the Islamic Republic through working at Radio Farda and publishing anti-regime materials; to date she had faced the lesser charge of spreading propaganda against the regime through her work at Radio Farda. In addition, Aqasi said that charges arising from the confiscation of a satellite dish and receiver from her mother's home two years ago had also been added to her file. Aqasi told Radio Farda, "Those officials who decide about this case, other than the judiciary, emphasize that Ms. Azima must remain in Iran for now and indicate issues related to foreign relationships are the reason, which refers to the relationship between Iran and the United States" (English transcript at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/8/1ED9C323-781D-4276-B099-F0396BEB14DA.html)
In a separate interview, Azima told Radio Farda it is difficult for her to deal with being "in an unknown situation spending time in a state of limbo." Azima referred to an article in the June 18 edition of "E'temad" daily, in which "The writer attempted to prove that I was involved in actions against national security because I work for Radio Farda or that, since allegedly Radio Farda is an institution that seeks to instigate a soft revolution, therefore someone who works for Radio Farda is also involved in actions against national security." According to Azima, this issue was repeatedly raised during her interrogations; as she told Radio Farda, she told her interrogators "that what you refer to as 'propaganda against the state' is the same thing that we in professional and international journalism refer to as 'the free flow of information'" (English transcript at http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2007/08/e196a89c-af47-4105-aa55-e2ccd98d4727.html; Radio Farda article at http://www.radiofarda.com/Article/2007/08/26/o1_azima_new.html).
� In an interview with Radio Farda's "Evening Magazine" on August 22, Tehran-based journalist and political activist Isa Saharkhiz said he did not see a direct relation between the conditional release from prison one day earlier of Iranian-American academic Haleh Esfandiari and the talks between the U.S. and Iran about Iraq. Esfandiari was arrested, Saharkhiz told Radio Farda, during a wave of arrests in recent years involving everyone from university professors and lawyers to students and journalists. (audio at http://tinyurl.com/2ealgf).
� The August 26 edition of Radio Farda's weekly roundtable program "Viewpoints" dealt with the current state of U.S.-Iran relations. Former Iranian ambassador to the UN Saeed Rajaee Khorasani told Radio Farda that while neither the U.S. nor Iran is seeking war, he does not see a bright future for their relations either. Tehran-based university professor Pirouz Mojtahedzadeh said Iranian officials are faced with two choices -- either to sacrifice the country's interests in order to develop relations with the U.S., or vice versa. Rutgers University professor Houshang Amir Ahmadi, however, told Radio Farda that the U.S. and Iran have reached a point in their relationship where both sides need to decide whether they will pursue peace or war. Amir Ahmadi told listeners Iran should decide which alternative is in its interests; "I believe Iran's interest is in peace at any price" (http://www.radiofarda.com/Article/2007/08/26/o1_iran_US_relationship.html).
For more on these and other stories about Iran, please visit:
http://www.radiofarda.com -- Radio Farda's Persian-language website
http://www.rferl.org/reviews/farda.aspx -- "Focus on Farda" bi-weekly review
http://www.rferl.org/reports/iran-report/default.asp -- "RFE/RL Iran Report" weekly analysis
http://www.rferl.org/featuresarchive/country/iran.html -- RFE/RL English-language coverage of Iran
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