(Prague, Czech Republic -- June 10, 2008)
Radio Farda journalist Ahmad Rafat, who has reported on human rights abuses around the world for more than 30 years, was presented the prestigious Ilaria Alpi prize earlier this week by the Italian chapter of Reporters Sans Frontieres
during a ceremony in Riccione, Italy. The award, named after an Italian journalist who was killed along with her cameraman in Somalia in 1994, recognizes courageous investigative and fact-based reporting.
"Winning this award reinforces for me the responsibility I feel to continue reporting on human rights abuses and in defense of press freedom," said Rafat, who lives in Rome and splits his time between Radio Farda, Voice of America and the Italian news agency Adnkronos.
Last week, Rafat made headlines
when he was declared persona non grata and denied admission to the UN Food Summit in Rome by organizers who, he believes, were acting at the request of the Iranian government. Before the summit, Rafat's reports on Radio Farda - which broadcasts Persian-language news and information to Iran - focused on the controversy surrounding Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's trip to Italy. Rafat interviewed numerous critics of the Iranian President and exposed the reluctance of the Pope and many Italian officials to meet with Ahmadinejad. After an outcry from the international media, foreign governments, and media rights organizations, UN Food Summit organizers issued a public apology
to Rafat and reinstated his credentials.
Previous recipients of the Ilaria Alpi prize include Veran Matic, the director of Serbia's leading independent radio and television station, B-92, and Enzo Biaggi, a noted Italian journalist and political commentator.
Radio Farda is the Persian-language broadcasting service of RFE/RL that broadcasts news and information to Iran 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be found online at www.radiofarda.com