Groups demand Iran end threats against journalists

New York, May 10, 2010—The Overseas Press Club of America and the Committee to Protect Journalists are calling on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to bring an end to a nearly year-long campaign of harassment and intimidation of critical Iranian journalists working domestically and abroad. In a letter to the Iranian president, the groups specifically demanded that authorities end threats against Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari, who spent nearly four months in an Iranian prison on baseless antistate charges. Bahari has advocated on behalf of his imprisoned colleagues since he was set free in 2009.

The letter was signed by nearly 200 prominent media figures who attended the Overseas Press Club’s awards ceremony in New York on April 22. Bahari was honored by the club for his piece, “118 Days in Hell,” which recounted his time in prison.

“The 20 awards in international news that were given by the Overseas Press Club of America on April 22 speak to the heart of a free press—freedom to gather information, disseminate, broadcast, write and to speak about issues of importance in the world at large,” said Sonya Fry, executive director of the Overseas Press Club. “One of our award winners, Maziar Bahari, was jailed and more recently threatened because he sought to fulfill this role. We stand united in his defense and the defense of all journalists who remain imprisoned in Iran for doing their jobs.”

“We join with our colleagues at the Overseas Press Club and with journalists around the world who are disgusted and outraged by the ongoing persecution of Iranian journalists and their families,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.