The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Update on Iason and Iran's media crackdown

Iason Athanasiadis is still being held in an Iranian jail, with no news on the charges against him or when he might be released. (See previous post on Iason's arrest.)

Iason's parents have issued a statement:

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.