Sunday, April 15, 2007

Another Hostage taken by Iran

Report: Radio reporter held in Iran
Sun. 15 Apr 2007
Associated Press

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) - The U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty said Saturday that Iranian authorities have prevented one of its journalists from leaving the country.

Parnaz Azima, who is based in Prague where she works for Radio Farda - Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Persian service operated jointly with the Voice of America radio broadcaster - arrived in the capital, Tehran, on Jan. 25 to visit a sick relative, the broadcaster said in an e-mailed statement.

On arrival, authorities seized her Iranian passport and have failed to return it to her, it said. It was not clear what the reason was. The statement said Azima was once asked to cooperate with Iran's intelligence services, which she refused.

Azima has dual Iranian and U.S. citizenship, the radio said.

"I call on the Iranian authorities to return Ms. Azima's passport and to allow her to leave Iran without further delay," said Jeffrey Gedmin, the broadcaster's president. "There is no reason to prevent this talented journalist from returning to her professional duties immediately.''

The broadcaster is a private, nonprofit corporation that receives funding from the U.S. government. It was established in 1949 to spread pro-Western news and promote democratic values and institutions in countries behind the Iron Curtain.

The station moved its headquarters to Prague from Munich, Germany, in 1995, after the collapse of communism.

It has broadcast in 28 languages to 20 countries, including Iran and Iraq since 1998, and Afghanistan from 2002.

In the past, Iran put diplomatic and trade pressure on the Czech government to end Radio Farda's programming, the U.S. Ambassador to Prague, Richard Graber,said recently.

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