(Washington, DC--April 13, 2007) RFE/RL President Jeffrey Gedmin expressed concern about the fate of Parnaz Azima, an RFE/RL journalist who is currently in Iran and being prevented by authorities from leaving the country.
Azima, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Iran, entered Iran on January 25 to visit a sick relative. On arrival, officials at the airport in Tehran seized her Iranian passport. Since then, Azima has tried unsuccessfully to reclaim the passport on several occasions. During one meeting with authorities Azima was asked to collaborate with Iranian intelligence services. She refused.
Gedmin said, "I call on the Iranian authorities to return Ms. Azima's passport and to allow her to leave Iran without futher delay. There is no reason to prevent this talented journalist from returning to her professional duties immediately."
Azima is a broadcaster with Radio Farda, the joint RFE/RL-Voice of America 24-hour, seven-day-a-week Persian-language broadcast service to Iran. She joined RFE/RL in 1998 and is based at RFE/RL's broadcast headquarters in Prague, Czech Republic. Azima endured a similar situation in Iran during the spring of 2006, when her Iranian passport was seized and held for several weeks before being returned to her.