Washington, D.C., Jan. 10, 2003 – Radio Farda, its Persian-language audience apparently growing rapidly, has carried more than 30 major interviews with dissidents and supporters of democratic change in Iran during the station’s first weeks on the air.
“We promised our listeners in Iran that we would support the forces of freedom and democracy in that country through our news and public affairs programming. That’s exactly what we’re doing – and we’ll keep doing in the coming weeks and months,” said Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) which oversees all U.S. international broadcasting, including Radio Farda.
Since its debut on Dec.18, 2002, Radio Farda’s website (www.radiofarda.com) has received more than 9.6 million hits. Hits have increased steadily and now average about 450,000 daily. The government of Iran has jammed the station intermittently.
“We’re obviously having a tremendous impact in Iran, particularly among the young who make up such a large part of that society,” said Norman J. Pattiz, chairman of the BBG’s Middle East Committee. “We’ve gotten off to a great start, and we’re going to keep adding programs that appeal to Iranians and reflect their desire for change.”
Among those interviewed on Radio Farda were:
• Sayeh Sa’eedi–Sirjani, whose father, writer Ali-Akbar Sa’di-Sirjani, died in Iranian government custody eight years ago under suspicious circumstances. For the first time, Sirjani said publicly she believes President Mohammad Khatami and Hossein Shari’atmadari, the publisher of an extremist daily, must share some responsibility for her father’s death.
• Abolfath Soltani, an attorney for Iran’s National Religious Alliance, criticized the Islamic Revolutionary Court judge who sentenced him to four months in jail for representing clients who claim they were tortured while in prison.
• Ahmad Montazeri, whose father, Ayatollah Montazeri is a prominent religious leader now under house arrest, criticized Iranian authorities for not allowing doctors to visit and examine his father.
• Dr. Mohammad Maleki, a former chancellor of Tehran University who spent 11 years in prison and now is accused of attempting to overthrow the regime, told Radio Farda his trial by Revolutionary Court is illegal.
Radio Farda covers a wide spectrum of events in Iran in its 46 newscasts and two 30-minute newsmagazines each day. The station regularly features stories on the continuing student unrest in Iran, the opposition to secret trials, the lack of participation in local elections and on energy shortages.
U.S. officials also have spoken out on Iranian issues on Radio Farda, including President Bush, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Reps. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., and Robert Ney, R-Ohio. Radio Farda interviewed Ney, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Iran, in Persian.
Since mid-December, Iranians have sent thousands of emails praising the station.
Operated from Washington and Prague, Czech Republic, Radio Farda is a 24-hour-a-day, 7 day a week station that broadcasts up-to-the-minute news twice an hour, with longer, in-depth news and news analysis in the morning and evening prime time. The station also plays Persian and Western music, which is mostly banned in Iran. Radio Farda – Farda means tomorrow in Persian — is broadcast on medium-wave, shortwave, digital audio satellite and Internet. Radio Farda, which represents an increase in news and information provided by U.S. international broadcasting to Iran, complements the Voice of America’s (VOA) radio and television programs in Persian.
The BBG is an independent federal