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Jailed In Iran, A Reporter's Story

This is not your expected tale of a three-week stint in an Iranian prison. Photojournalist Iason Athanasiadis-Fowden, who was in Iran covering the recent disputed elections and massive protests that followed, was trying to leave the country ahead of his visa expiring when he was arrested and charged with espionage. He spoke to us over Skype from his parents' home in Greece shortly after being released from prison.

As you will see, there are moments in his retelling that are both humorous and terrifying. The fact that Athanasiadis-Fowden has spent several years reporting from Iran, speaks the language, and understands the culture certainly helped his cause.

His work frequently appears in The Washington Times and is supported by our partners at the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

More Reporting from Iason Athanasiadis-Fowden

Nieman Reports: Understanding Iran: Reporters Who Do Are Exiled, Pressured or Jailed
Athanasiadis-Fowden describes the shifting fortunes of reporters in Iran and, in particular, the work of American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi, who was jailed for several months in Iran earlier this year on charges of spying. She was released in May.

Tehran Bureau

This online magazine and virtual reporter's bureau has become a vibrant destination for news about Iran since the election protests began in June. Much of the context comes from ex-pat Iranian journalists wanting to provide a deeper more nuanced coverage of their country's political crisis.

Pulitzer Center: Iran on the Edge
Blogging for the Pulitzer Center, Athanasiadis-Fowden wrote regularly about the growing social and political turmoil in the Islamic Republic prior to his arrest in June.


Paul - Reston, VA
I'm sure Fowden will never forget the experience of being locked in an Iranian prison. This incident is an indicator of how desperate the government is in maintaining control and is looking for any scapegoats to accuse of being spies. The more they repress the people of Iran, the greater the conflict will be.

La Paz, Bolivia
"Ahmadinejad is a hate figure because he is short and sometimes makes silly comments"? No wonder he was released after only 3 weeks
-- this guy is no threat to the regime. Perhaps if he had voiced an opinion against some of Ahmadinejad's "silliest" remarks, those that involve killing jews and homosexuals he would have stayed longer in the prison. Perhaps if he had voiced opposition to the killings in Theran's streets or the execution of protesters he would have been given a harder time. What a lame reporter.

- Bloomington, IL
If you listen to the last statements Mr. Fowden makes, it is quite clear that Iran isn't the backwards country that our national media has made it out to be. That, indeed, is insightful.

We may not agree with Iran or its leadership, but they are not the demons some in America would like us to believe.

Mr. Fowden may be a scholar, and a decent photographer, but he recounts his story in a way that scarcely reveals anything new on the situation in Iran. We know that innocent people have been imprisoned (and worse) for speaking their peace -- but Mr. Fowden's experience, while a rare glimpse at the inside of an Iranian prison, gave as much information about his mother's dissertation, and his abilities to outsmart the authorities, as it did about what is happening inside Iran.