TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's state television is reporting that a Greek journalist that had been held for more than two weeks has been released. State television Sunday quoted a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Hasan Qashqavi, as saying that Iason Athanasiadis-Fowden had been released in, what he described as the framework of Tehran-Athens ties.Some good news from Iran regarding my friend Iason Athanasiadis, the Greek journalist arrested in Tehran:
Iason Athanasiadis, the 30-year-old Greek correspondent for the Washington Times who had been covering Iran’s disputed presidential election until he was arrested in Teheran two weeks ago, is to be freed by Sunday morning, Iran’s ambassador in Athens has told Kathimerini. “We are pleased to confirm that within the next 48 hours the Greek journalist will have been freed,” Mehdi Honardoost told Kathimerini yesterday morning. Last Tuesday an Iranian Culture Ministry official had confirmed the arrest of Athanasiadis at Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport but without clarifying what charges the reporter faced.I hope they carry this out and release him soon, as well as any other journalists and unlawfully held people. See also this CPJ profile and a Guardian story about the promise to release him.
Meanwhile the parents of the journalist Iason Athanasiadis issued a statement appealing for the authorities to release their son, who was arrested last week on suspicion of what Tehran described as "underground activities". Iran's state media has said the authorities regard the journalist, also known as Jason Fowden, as a British reporter. Polymnia Athanasiadi and Georgios Fowden said: "Iason is a dedicated reporter, photographer and filmmaker who grew up in Greece and regards himself as Greek." "Iason has always maintained his integrity as an independent journalist who sells articles, photographs and film to outlets in many parts of the world," the statement added. "His work serves no purpose other than the fair and humane coverage of life in the many countries where he has worked. He has a particular love of Iran, and a deep respect for its cultural and religious traditions."Both Greek and British authorities are working towards his release. Iason is one of at least 30 journalists (Iranian and foreign) who have been arrested since the crisis began, including the entire staff of a newspaper affiliated with presidential candidate Hossein Moussavi, Kalameh Sabz. Reporters Sans Frontieres says Iranian demonstrators have been forced to say they protested under the influence of foreign media:
Reporters Without Borders today condemned a parade of Iranian demonstrators being shown on a loop on state-run TV confessing to having protested at the behest of foreign media. All demonstrators make their confessions using the same words that have opened the nightly news bulletin for the past week: “Bismillah, al-rahman al-rahim. I admit that I demonstrated under the influence of the BBC, the radio Voice of America and other foreign media”. The confessions are aired at every hour of the day and night to show Iranians the extent to which those disputing the presidential election were persuaded by western agents to take part in an “orchestrated plot” against the Islamic Republic of Iran, confirming the words of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, where Iason was working, has more updates on his situation.
Iason in Tehran, Washington Times The drama unfolding in Iran has many victims, and it may seem arbitrary to focus on any single one of them. But professional solidarity and personal acquaintance move me to speak out for the release of Iason Athanasiadis, a reporter and photographer who has worked on Iran for several years and was arrested on June 20 while reporting for the Washington Times. I have known Iason for nearly a decade, from when he lived in Cairo and worked at al-Ahram Weekly. He is a stellar linguist and journalist. The work Iason and other reporters operating in Iran is crucial to information about the evolving situation getting out, potentially influencing the outcome of the crisis. The Iranian regime, by booting out most reporters and now arresting those who remain, is only communicating one thing: that it is afraid of what is happening in the country, and afraid of transparency about its political process, the state of freedom of speech and freedom of association in Iran. His detention only underlines these fears, discrediting the regime's claims that it is trying to find fair, political answers to the questions raised by the recent flawed election. Although one hopes that the Iranian authorities will treat Iason well and release him soon - as a Greek-British national he may have more cover than the hundreds of Iranians now in jail - we cannot be sure. The uncertain outcome of the situation in Iran and a past record of prosecuting journalists unfairly do not bode well. My solidarity goes to him and his family, as well as to the Iranian people who have had the courage to fight for the right to appoint leaders of their choosing.