Iranian journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi has been awarded UNESCO's Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize, which is given for a significant contribution to freedom of expression in the face of danger.
The event took place in Washington during this year's global World Press Freedom Day conference, hosted for the first time by the United States.
Mr. Zeidabadi, who has been a newspaper editor and columnist, as well as a university professor, has been repeatedly arrested since 2000 because of his outspoken views on the importance of free expression, human rights, and the rule of law. His most recent arrest took place in 2009 in the massive crackdown that followed Iran's disputed presidential election. He has been held in what has been described as "horrific" conditions. Convicted after a sham trial of seeking to overthrow the government, he was sentenced to six years in prison, to be followed by five years of internal exile and a life-time ban on journalistic or other civic activities.
In a video greeting participants of the World Press Freedom Day Conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton referred to Mr. Zeidabadi as "a champion for freedom of expression":
"It's telling that this year's winner cannot be with you in person to receive his prize because he is imprisoned in his own county. But his absence gives us a fitting occasion to reflect on the principles he stands for and to stand together in celebrating the contributions that journalists make in advancing human dignity, liberty, and prosperity."
In Iran, dozens of journalists languish behind bars, for, as Secretary of State Clinton says, "their courageous efforts to forge a new path for Iran – one where every citizen has the right to express themselves free from persecution or violence." The United States will continue to champion them and all who promote media freedom. Because as Secretary of State Clinton has said, and Ahmad Zeidabadi has demonstrated by his courage and to his great cost, "When a free media is in jeopardy, all other human rights are threatened."