Press Freedom Day Speaker Hero in Canada but Wanted in Iran on 15 Charges

OTTAWA, April 12 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian-Iranian journalist and Newsweek reporter, Maziar Bahari, will share his personal story of covering the widespread protests preceding Iran's 2009 presidential election, at the 12th annual Canadian World Press Freedom Awards luncheon in Ottawa, May 3, World Press Freedom Day.

His speech entitled "Press Freedom in Chains, the saga of a Canadian Journalist's Ordeal in Iran," will describe the terrifying ordeal of being arrested by the pro-Ahmedinajad Revolutionary Guard, then incarcerated and tortured in Tehran's gruesome Evin prison where Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian photojournalist died after being severely beaten in 2003.

An acclaimed film maker, playwright and journalist Maziar Bahari immigrated to Canada in 1987 and studied at Montreal's McGill and Concordia universities. Mr. Bahari has written for the New York Times, the New Statesman and the Guardian and has produced documentaries on subjects as varied as the ill-fated 1939 voyage of 900 German Jewish refugees, and human rights in Iran. The Iran correspondent for Newsweek since 1998, he was on assignment in Tehran in June 2009 when he had his brush with forces opposed to media freedom.

Released on bail from Evin prison, Bahari is still wanted on 15 charges in Iran and has stated that he cannot return safely to that country until the fall of the Islamic Republic.

At the May 3 luncheon, hosted by broadcaster Don Newman, the Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF) will present the 12th annual Press Freedom Award to a Canadian journalist engaged in the defence or promotion of press freedom. The 10th annual International Editorial Cartoon Competition will also recognize the best submissions on the theme, "The 'right' not to be offended is not a right: How can we encourage vigorous debate while being respectful of religious sensibilities?"

The Press Freedom Award includes a cash prize of $2,000 and a certificate of honour from the CCWPF and the Canadian Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The International Editorial Cartoon Competition comprises awards of $1,500, $750 and $500.

This year's Awards ceremony will be particularly significant as violence against journalists has reached new levels. At least 101 journalists and media workers were killed in 2009, including Canadian Michelle Lang who died in Afghanistan on December 30, 2009, a significant increase from the 87 journalists killed in 2008.

Tickets are $40 each and may be ordered by calling 613-237-3575 or by filling out and faxing the registration form on www.ccwpf-cclpm.ca

SOURCE Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom

For further information: For further information: Gord McIntosh, gord@110percent.ca or Bob Carty, rcarty@sympatico.ca, (613) 730-1007

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