Canadian-Iranian photojournalist hospitalized

New York, July 10, 2003—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is gravely concerned about Canadian-Iranian free-lance photographer Zahra Kazemi who is currently in serious condition in a hospital in Iran’s capital, Tehran.

Kazemi, who has contributed to Recto Verso, a Montreal-based magazine, and the London-based photo agency Camera Press, is in a coma in a Tehran hospital, said a source in Iran familiar with the situation. Canadian press reports also say that Kazemi, 54, remains on life support suffering from a brain hemorrhage.

Several Canadian newspapers have reported that Iranian authorities detained Kazemi in late June near Tehran’s Evin Prison and afterwards ended up in the hospital. CPJ, however, has not been able to speak to any eyewitnesses and continues to investigate the case.

The Canadian government has formally urged Iranian officials to provide information on the matter. Reynald Dioron, a spokesman for Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, told CPJ that Canadian officials did not have details on the circumstances surrounding Kazemi’s injuries. He added that Canadian embassy officials in Tehran, visited the journalist at the hospital today and received a report on her condition, but could not release any details.

Calls to Iran’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York were not returned.

“We are extremely worried about Zahra Kazemi and fear that she may have been harmed while carrying out her journalistic work,” said senior program coordinator Joel Campagna. “We call on the Iranian government to provide answers as to how Kazemi ended up hospitalized in this condition.”