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IRANIAN EDITOR RECEIVES WAN GOLDEN PEN AWARD

On 14 June, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) awarded its 1999 Golden Pen of Freedom to exiled Iranian journalist Faraj Sarkohi, in recognition of his outstanding services to the cause of press freedom. Sarkohi, former editor of the cultural journal "Adineh", was an organiser of the 1994 statement calling for an end to censorship in Iran signed by over 100 intellectuals in Iran. In November 1996, Sarkohi disappeared for 47 days and in September 1997 was convicted of slandering Iran and sentenced to a year in prison. He was released in January 1998 but denied a passport until he was allowed to leave Iran in May 1998 for Germany. "Sarkohi, who was imprisoned and tortured by both the regimes of the Shah and the Islamic Republic, was expelled from Iran last year after three decades of writing against censorship and in favour of democracy," says WAN. The Golden Pen award was presented at the opening of WAN's 52nd World Newspaper Congress and 6th World Editors Forum in Switzerland. Sarkohi said, "For 32 years, I have lived by the pen, and for 32 years, I have yearned for freedom of the pen. During the Shah's despotic rule over Iran, I was imprisoned for eight years," adding that his "crime" was that he "printed and distributed a social and literary magazine and wrote articles banned by the tyrant's censors." He added, "International support and world pressure saved my life and obtained my release."

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