(Prague, Czech Republic -- March 13, 2008) The front page of the "Prague Post"
today highlights the fate of Radio Farda broadcaster Parnaz (Nazy) Azima, who has been convicted and sentenced to a year in jail by an Iranian court for "spreading anti-state propaganda."
The Post explained that Azima, a dual U.S. and Iranian citizen who has spent 10 years working as a Prague-based correspondent for RFE/RL's Persian-language broadcast service to Iran, is being forced to choose between returning to Iran in order to serve the sentence or giving up the deed to her 95 year-old mother's home in Tehran.
"My mother is very strong," Azima says in an interview with the newspaper. "I'm sure she's nervous [about the situation], but she says, 'You know, life is worth much more than a house, so don't think about this, and I'm sure everything will end well.'"
For more than a year, Azima has faced considerable hostility from the Iranian government. In January 2007, when visiting her ailing mother, authorities in Tehran seized her passport, denying Azima permission to leave the country and return to work. Eight months later, Azima was finally allowed to return to Prague, but the charges against her remained.
Last month, Tehran's 13th Revolutionary Court found her guilty of "spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic" and handed down a one-year prison sentence.
For her part, Azima is resolved not to let the court's ruling influence her broadcasts. She tells the Post that the Iranian regime has pressured her to concentrate her coverage on international or cultural events rather than human rights.
"But of course, I won't do that," says Azima. "They advised me not to touch the subject [of human rights], but I wouldn't accept that."