Thursday, July 02, 2009

Response to alleged "confession" by Maziar Bahari

NEWSWEEK Magazine issued the following statement on July 1:

Maziar Bahari has been detained in Iran since June 21 without access to a lawyer. An Iranian state news agency reports that Bahari has said he participated in a Western media effort to promote irresponsible reporting in Iran. NEWSWEEK strongly disputes that charge, and defends Bahari's work. Maziar Bahari is a veteran journalist whose long career, both in print and in documentary filmmaking, has been accurate, even-handed, and widely respected. NEWSWEEK again calls for his immediate release.


A version reported on CNN International (and, no, I am not the managing editor of Newsweek, I am the Paris Bureau Chief and Middle East Regional Editor):

The CNN written report:

From the Committee to Protect Journalists:

New York, June 30, 2009--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Iranian authorities to immediately release all jailed journalists and to stop vilifying the foreign press. CPJ also welcomed the release of a number of employees of the reformist newspaper Kalameh Sabz who had been held since June 23.

In recent days, the Iranian government has launched a campaign designed to malign the foreign press, blaming demonstrations that followed the contested June 12 presidential elections on foreign news media, particularly British and U.S. news outlets. On June 19, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed foreign media for social unrest, calling it "evil" for allegedly misleading and agitating the Iranian people. According to Iranian news reports, an official also claimed that the BBC, not government gunmen, had shot Neda Agha Soltan, the demonstrator whose death was caught on camera and broadcast across the world, purportedly to agitate the people of Iran against the government.

Fars News agency today posted an 11-page "confession" by Tehran's Newsweek correspondent Maziar Bahari, who was detained on June 21, in which he is reported to have said, according to a translation on The Washington Post's Web site: "The activities of Western journalists in news gathering and spying and gathering intelligence are undeniable." The document also claims Bahari said: "I, too, as a journalist and a member of this great Western capitalism machine, either blindly or on purpose, participated in projecting doubts and promoting a color revolution."

"The Iranian government invited international media to cover the presidential campaign when they wanted to showcase the elections," said CPJ executive director Joel Simon. "When journalists covered the street protests that erupted in the disputed aftermath, the government turned on the media, essentially blaming journalists for doing their job."... (more)

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