The National Press Club next week will honor an Iranian journalist who is languishing in prison. Kouhyar Goudarzi, an online reporter and human rights activist, was pursuing an aerospace degree at Sharif Industrial University when security agents put him behind bars, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. Goudarzi, left, was an editor for Iran’s Committee of Human Rights Reporters and a producer for Radio Zamaneh.
Gourdarzi and others were pulled off a bus en route to the funeral of Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montaseri, a once revolutionary cleric who later became the nation’s most important religious figure to demand democratic reforms. Gourdarzi is now serving a one-year sentence for alleged crimes including “propagating against the regime” and “congregation and munity with intent to disrupt national security.” He was transferred to solitary confinement in May, and is now sharing a three-person cell in Evin Prison, according to the Facebook page calling for his freedom.
The National Press Club will honor him and U.S. journalist Charles N. Davis with its 2010 John Aubuchon Freedom of the Press Awards at a ceremony on Monday evening.
For five years, Davis was executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, based at the University of Missouri School of Journalism where he is an associate professor. The coalition under Davis’ leadership supported efforts at local, state, and national levels to demand access to government records, to develop laws to ensure access, and to monitor government agency compliance.
“In the battle for public records, Charles has always been on the front lines. It would be hard to find anyone more passionate about freedom of information, and there are very few people who have given more time and effort to push for transparency. One example would be Sunshine Week, where his organizing efforts each year have helped to establish it as an enduring annual event that focuses attention on open government, not just for the press, but for citizens,” noted Andrew Alexander, a CPJ board member and Washington Post ombudsman.
“Charles is a dear friend and a very hard-working leader who will do almost anything in pursuit of the public’s right to know. His temperament is so reasonable. It doesn’t matter if you’re a working journalist, a citizen, a working student. He is universally beloved because he is so nice and he is such an incredible class act. He also knows the law and that really makes him indispensible,” said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.