An Iranian journalist currently behind bars for his work won this year’s UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.
The international prize launched in 1997 honors a person, organization or institution that has made an outstanding contribution to press freedom, especially in the face of adversity.
This year’s winner is Ahmad Zeidabadi, a notable Iranian journalist, political analyst and academic. He is the former editor-in-chief of daily Azad and also contributes to Hamshahari, the BBC Persian service and the Persian/English news site, Rooz. He has been arrested multiple times for his work and is currently serving a six-year jail sentence following Iran’s disputed presidential election in 2009.
“Throughout his career Ahmad Zeidabadi has courageously and unceasingly spoken out for press freedom and freedom of expression,” said Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO in a press release. “Ahead of World Press Freedom Day and in recognition of the concerns expressed by the international jury for his health and well-being, I call on the Iranian authorities to release Mr Zeidabadi from detention.”
Zeidabadi was among dozens of Iranian journalists detained following the election. He was tried on charges of plotting to overthrow the government and has been banned for life from practicing journalism. The prize also recognizes the other Iranian journalists still in jail.
In 2010, Zeidabadi also won the Golden Pen of Freedom Award, sponsored by the World Association of Newspapers.
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