I mentioned last week the case of imprisoned Greek journalist Iason Athanasiadis, currently being held in an Iranian jail on spurious grounds.
Salon has published a feature about this fine man:
Iason’s detention is especially ironic, given his love of Iran and his understanding of its people and culture. His on-the-ground reporting in the aftermath of the elections, for the Washington Times, GlobalPost and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, was built on his earlier documentation of Iranian society for Der Spiegel, the South China Morning Post, Athens News, the National of Abu Dhabi, and numerous other publications in the U.S. and Europe.
His images concentrate on Iran as a “land of paradox,” where respect for tradition both contrasts and overlaps with contemporary yearnings. It is here, as much as anywhere in his work, that Iason’s appreciation of Iranian society comes through. In museum and gallery exhibitions, including at Harvard, Stanford and the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, the narrative of youth is depicted alongside images of religious rites, village and nomadic life, traditional fishing communities, women snowboarders, men on horseback, soccer matches, religious theater, and gridlock in contemporary Tehran.
Nowhere is Iason’s witness more penetrating than in his images of what he called the “clandestine life of the next generation.” Yet in documenting their aspirations, Iason also underscores that the young people of Iran seek change within Iran, not outside intervention; clear in their hearts is a wish to avoid the bloodshed that has plagued their nation for generations.
Iason has done as much as any foreign journalist to depict the nuances of contemporary Iran, and thus to humanize its people at a time when foreign powers were threatening another war. Indeed, we all could have used more of Iason’s brand of incisive and empathetic journalism in the days leading up to the Iraq war.