- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

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

The Fars news agency 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 the official claimed to have “no idea about his offense,” according to the wire service Agence France-Presse.

The Iranian report did not identify the reporter by name, but Times Executive Editor John Solomon said the newspaper thinks he is Greek-born freelance journalist Iason Athanasiadis, who had covered the election and the 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.”

Without giving a specific date, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency quoted the Culture Ministry official, Mohsen Moghadaszadeh, as saying, “Jason Fowden, the Washington Times reporter, was arrested when he was leaving the country from Imam Khomeini Airport at the end of last week.”

The full name of the reporter, who has a British father and a Greek mother, is Iason Athanasiadis-Fowden, AFP reported, citing a Western diplomat in Tehran.

Iranian officials have launched a major crackdown on foreign and home-based news media as they try to quell massive street protests over the recent election results. Iran has expelled the British Broadcasting Corp.’s Tehran correspondent and ordered the closure of Al Arabiya television’s office, while Newsweek magazine said a Canadian journalist working for it has been detained without charge.