Since his arrest by Iranian authorities last month, Maziar Bahari‘s employer, Newsweek has been making pleas for his release. Today, the magazine’s editor-in-chief Jon Meacham again called for Bahari’s release with an article detailing the foreign correspondent’s work in an effort to dispel allegations that he is a subversive or spy.
Throughout Meacham’s detailed article, it becomes obvious that Bahari is close friend and important member of the Newsweek team. There is also a sense of fear and urgency. It is scary to have one of your own behind bars in a foreign land, especially one as full of uncertainty and unrest as Iran, and with no formal charges against him or even access to a lawyer.
“Some in the government of Iran would like to portray Bahari as a kind of subversive or even as a spy,” Meacham writes. “He is neither. He is a journalist; a man who was doing his job, and doing it fairly and judiciously, when he was arrested. Maziar Bahari is an agent only of the truth as best he can see it, and his body of work proves him to be a fair-minded observer who eschews ideological cant in favor of conveying the depth and complexity of Iranian life and culture to the wider world. Few have argued more extensively and persuasively, for instance, that Iran’s nuclear program is an issue of national pride, not just the leadership’s obsession.”
Meacham also revealed more details about Bahari’s arrest on June 21. He was arrested at 7 a.m. at the home he shared with his mother. Government agents, who did not identify what branch of the government they worked for, seized Bahari’s computer and took him into custody. His family didn’t hear from him for more than a day. Then Bahari was allowed to call his mother, an 83-year-old woman who has lost her husband, eldest son and daughter in the last three years.
“Maziar is her only child left in this world, and his arrest has been almost too much for her,” Meacham reported.
Bahari was allowed to call his mother one other time, Meacham said. “Both times he told her not to worry, that he was doing all right.”
Despite these assurances, Meacham and the rest of the Newsweek crew want to see their colleague released as soon as possible. With this in mind, Meacham closed his article with a firm plea to Bahari’s captors.
“With respect, then, we ask the government of Iran to grant Bahari the rights he is guaranteed under Iranian law: that he be allowed to see a lawyer and, if there are no charges against him — and we believe there should be no charges — that he be released immediately. We say again: Maziar Bahari is a journalist whose fairness is evident in any reasonable survey of his work. His case is an opportunity for the government of Iran to show that it is a well-intentioned member of the family of nations, a country to be taken seriously and on its own terms. It is an opportunity, we respectfully submit, that should not be missed.”
We, too, hope for his safe release soon. Let’s hope the Iranian government is listening to our requests.