Iran: News organizations call for journalist's release

Kelly Mallahan, Pulitzer Center

UPDATED: Iason was visited by the Greek ambassador in Iran's Evin Prison on Thursday.

Iason The Nieman Foundation, The Washington Times, World Politics Review and GlobalPost, along with the Pulitzer Center, are calling for the immediate release of Iason Athansiadis, an Istanbul-based Greek journalist. Iason was detained last week in Iran, where he had been covering the elections and aftermath on a grant from the Pulitzer Center.

The Greek ambassador met with Iason at Evin Prison on Thursday, the first contact he has had with non-Iranians since his detention on June 17. Family members said the ambassador found him "doing well mentally and physically."

Iason is fluent in Farsi and Arabic and lived in Iran for three years. Nieman curator Bob Giles says of Iason, "His dispatches from Iran are the work of a professional journalist who cares deeply about the Iranian people, for whom he has developed a deep affection during his years of reporting there."

Hampton Stephens, the editor and publisher of World Politics Review, said Iason's work was "characterized by a rare dedication to objectivity, intellectual honesty and cultural understanding."

"His love for Iran is obvious in his coverage of that country," Stephens added.

It is unclear why Iason was detained. According to a statement by GlobalPost, Iason "was traveling with a valid journalist's visa and credentials when he was picked up by Iranian officials at the Tehran airport the evening of June 17. Iranian news agencies have reported that he was detained although no precise charges have been presented."

John Solomon, executive editor of The Washington Times, said, "We understand that the Greek foreign ministry and the Greek ambassador in Tehran are diligently working to secure his swift release. We hope the situation will be resolved very soon."