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Heard This Week - 09/20/2007

Heard in Iran This Week
on Radio Farda

(Washington, DC -- September 20, 2007) This past week, Radio Farda kept listeners in Iran informed about:
* the return to the U.S. of correspondent Parnaz Azima, including interviews with Azima and her lawyer; and
* comments by European leaders concerning the potential strengthening of sanctions against Iran's nuclear program--including the possibility of armed conflict.

Azima Free, But Still Facing Charges
Radio Farda reported that correspondent Parnaz Azima, a virtual prisoner in Iran for more than eight months, left Iran and returned to the U.S. on September 18. Listeners heard that RFE/RL President Jeff Gedmin welcomed news of Azima's departure, but said he remains concerned because criminal charges against her have not been removed (; in English at,

Lawyer: Azima's Case "Special... With Security and Political Implications"
Also on September 18, Azima's lawyer Mohammad Hossein Aqasi told Radio Farda listeners he had to work through an unnamed official institution "that claims to be a human rights organization" to secure Azima's release: "Despite the heavy bail posted by her, my legal request was not granted by the court." It is not clear, Aqasi said, if Azima's release was the result of measures taken by that organization, or of a change of heart on the part of those who had previously barred her from leaving the country. Aqasi refused to identify the organization, saying he had been threatened with prosecution on charges of "agitating public opinion" if he spoke openly. According to Aqasi, Azima's is "a special case with security and political implications," not an ordinary criminal case, and as a result he "cannot make a [definitive] prediction about [the outcome]," as it depends on "future [developments] in international relations and political issues" (

European Leaders and Iran's Nuclear Program
On September 19, Portuguese Prime Minister and current European Council President Jose Socrates said Europe is ready to do everything within its means to uphold international law regarding Iran's nuclear program. Radio Farda asked Alex Bigham, an Iran analyst at the London-based Foreign Policy Center to comment for listeners on Socrates' statement. According to Bigham, Socrates may be referring to the possibility of stronger sanctions being imposed that would probably target Iran's financial system. Asked if Socrates' statement was in line with recent comments by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner about the potential for a military attack on Iran, Bigham told listeners, "Obviously, the ultimate and the very last resort would be military action," which should be used as a lever to bring Iran to the table to find a diplomatic solution to the problem (audio at

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

Radio Farda, a joint project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) and
Voice of America (VOA), is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service.
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Radio Farda features fresh news and information at least twice an hour,
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