2014 CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee
(Courtesy of ABC News)
Siamak Ghaderi is an Iranian freelance journalist and a former editor and reporter for the Islamic Republic’s official news agency IRNA.
Ghaderi made international headlines when he chose to rebut former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s claim in 2007 that there were no homosexuals in Iran by publishing online his own interviews with several gay Iranians. He later set up his own blog, called IRNA-ye maa (Our IRNA), in which he covered street protests and other developments following the contested 2009 presidential election.
In July 2010, he was arrested and, in January 2011, sentenced to four years in prison and 60 lashes on charges of “propagating against the regime,” “creating public anxiety,” and “spreading falsehoods.” Pro-government news websites–including Rasekhoon and Haghighat News–called him a “seditionist” who was arrested for “immoral” acts. His blog was repeatedly blocked by authorities before he was detained, reports said.
Ghaderi was an editor and reporter for IRNA for 18 years until he was dismissed for writing about the 2009 election on his blog.
On July 14, 2014, Ghaderi was released from prison.
The text of Ghaderi’s acceptance speech, as prepared for delivery, is below. For the Farsi-language version of the speech as prepared for delivery, click here.
Ladies and gentlemen, greetings.
I am grateful to be honored with this prestigious International Press Freedom Award of the Committee to Protect Journalists. I accept it on behalf of all brave, hardworking Iranian journalists.
This award is a show of support for journalists who are experiencing the hardest and darkest period for journalism in Iran.
During the past 15 years, and specifically during the years since the 2009 election, dozens of newspapers and journalists have been found guilty in courts affiliated with security organizations. Many of those journalists will remain behind bars for years to come.
The crackdown on the Iranian media and journalist organizations is not new. It has been almost a decade since the Association of Iranian Journalists was suspended and its elected officers either imprisoned or forced into exile.
Journalism in Iran becomes bloody as dictatorships lose legitimacy and become unstable.
The heaviest pressure on Iranian journalists came in the summer and fall of 2009 after state television broadcasted show trials. The Tehran bureaus of foreign media were prevented from reporting on the bloody crackdown on protests by a government which had come to power through a de facto coup d’état.
This was when thousands of ordinary people took to disseminating information. In the years following, our prisons were filled with these citizen journalists and human rights activists who, in the absence of independent media, presented the voices of protesters.
If it weren’t for journalists, the sad death of blogger Sattar Beheshti in custody in 2012 and the beating of political prisoners at Evin Prison this year would have never been reported.
Ladies and gentlemen, need I remind you that the Iranian regime has violated the Iranian Constitution, which guarantees political and civil rights and freedom of expression?
Iranians continue to protest in the framework of the Green Movement. The regime is terrified to normalize the country’s political situation, to release Green Movement leaders and political, human rights, minority, and student activists.
The regime is battling a legitimacy crisis and so considers a free press as an enemy that peddles negative news and anti-state propaganda.
This award is an indication of the will of the international community to support the free activities of Iranian journalists and the people’s protests.
Support Siamak Ghaderi and CPJ’s fight for press freedom in Iran by tweeting:
Tweet @HassanRouhani & @JZarif must end the crackdown on the press in #Iran. Free the dozens of imprisoned journalists #IPFA
Three facts about press freedom in Iran:
- With around 35 journalists in jail each, Iran and China are the world’s leading jailers of journalists.
- Iran ranks first among countries where journalists have been forced to flee into exile over the past five years.
- The situation for the press has not improved under President Rouhani’s administration.
January 1, 2010: “An Epic Farewell with A Grand Ayatollah Who Alerted Those Feigning Sleep,” IRNA-ye maa