- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An Iranian news agency reported Tuesday that the Islamic republic’s government had arrested a Washington Times reporter who had been covering the disputed election in that country.

The news agency Fars quoted the country’s director general of foreign media at the culture ministry as saying a Times reporter “of Greek origin” had been detained but I have “no idea about his offense,” according to the wire service Agence France Press.

The Iranian report did not identify the reporter by name but Times Executive Editor John Solomon said the newspaper believes he is Greek-born freelance journalist Iason Athanasiadis, who had covered the election and violent aftermath for the Times and disappeared a few days ago.

“We are aware of the report today by an Iranian news agency that one of our freelance reporters, Iason Athanasiadis, has been arrested by Iranian authorities,” Mr. Solomon said. “We have been trying diligently to ascertain Iason’s whereabouts. 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.”

Iranian officials have launched a major crackdown on foreign and home-based news media as they try to quell massive street protests over last week’s election results.

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