Washington Times journalist arrested in Iran
TEHRAN/ATHENS (Reuters) - Iranian authorities have arrested a Greek journalist covering Iran's disputed presidential election for the Washington Times, a Greek foreign ministry spokesman said on Tuesday, calling for his release.
Greek national Iason Athanasiadis was arrested three days ago in Tehran on charges of "illegal activities, a friend of the journalist told Reuters earlier on Tuesday.
"We can confirm that he has been arrested," the foreign ministry spokesman told Reuters. "We are in constant contact with Iranian authorities in order to have a quick and good end to this story."
"Right now we are interested in having him freed as soon as we can," he said.
The spokesman declined to comment further on the arrest.
The semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency quoted the head of foreign media affairs at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance as confirming the arrest.
"This Greek national has traveled to this country a number of times for journalistic work for different media but I'm not informed of his crime," the official, Mohsen Moghadeszadeh, was quoted as saying.
Iranian authorities have told Greece Athanasiadis exceeded the duration of his visa, said a Greek official who declined to be named, adding that the arrest was made five days ago.
(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Zahra Hosseinian in Tehran and Ingrid Melander in Athens; Editing by Matthew Jones)
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
TWT freelance reporter arrested in IranAn Iranian news agency reported Tuesday that the Islamic republic's government had arrested a Washington Times reporter who had been covering the disputed election in that country.
The news agency Fars quoted the country's director general of foreign media at the culture ministry as saying a Times reporter "of Greek origin" had been detained but I have "no idea about his offense," according to the wire service Agence France Press.
The Iranian report did not identify the reporter by name but Times Executive Editor John Solomon said the newspaper believes he is Greek-born freelance journalist Iason Athanasiadis, who had covered the election and violent aftermath for the Times and disappeared a few days ago.
"We are aware of the report today by an Iranian news agency that one of our freelance reporters, Iason Athanasiadis, has been arrested by Iranian authorities," Mr. Solomon said. "We have been trying diligently to ascertain Iason's whereabouts. We understand that the Greek foreign ministry and the Greek ambassador in Tehran are diligently working to secure his swift release. We hope the situation will be resolved very soon."
Iranian officials have launched a major crackdown on foreign and home-based news media as they try to quell massive street protests over last week's election results.
About Iason Athanasiadis
Writer, photographer and television producer, Iason Athanasiadis has been covering the Middle East, Central Asia, and the southeast Mediterranean since 1999. He earned degrees in Arabic and Modern Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford University (BA) as well as Persian and Contemporary Iranian Studies at Tehran's School of International Studies (MA). Athanasiadis lived in Iran from 2004-2007, covering conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Lebanon for the international media including the Times, the Christian Science Monitor, American Prospect, British Journalism Review and the South China Morning Post. He covered the 2003 invasion of Iraq from Qatar for al-Jazeera, the 2004 Athens Olympics for BBC World, and the 2006 Israeli-Hizbullah war in Lebanon as a freelancer. At the same time, his photography has been featured in solo exhibitions in Germany, Greece, Iran, and the United States, and his work published in Der Spiegel and the Los Angeles Times, among other newspapers and magazines. A native of Greece, Athanasiadis was a 2008 Nieman fellow at Harvard University. He is an Aristotle Onassis Foundation scholar and has lectured on Iran at Berkeley, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Yale and other universities www.iason.ws.
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