Magazine article Newsweek

Freed at Last

Magazine article Newsweek

Freed at Last

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher Dickey

After 118 days in captivity, Maziar Bahari returns home.

Day after day, month after month, following his imprisonment in Iran on June 21, documentary filmmaker and NEWSWEEK correspondent Maziar Bahari did not see the face of his interrogator. Maziar, 42, was blindfolded or faced a wall as the accusations and questions--often it was hard to tell the difference--kept coming at him. And always the interrogator told him the same thing: "No one on the outside cares about you. Everyone has forgotten you." Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Canada's Prime Minister -Stephen Harper called publicly for Maziar's release (he is a naturalized Canadian citizen). Behind the scenes, envoys and officials from other sympathetic governments raised his cause with Iranian authorities. The various media that Maziar has worked for--NEWSWEEK, Channel 4 News in Britain, CNN, and the BBC--all drew repeated attention to the unfairness of his detention, as did reporters and editorialists from many other outlets around the world. Hundreds of writers, filmmakers, and artists signed petitions calling for his release; so did thousands of ordinary citizens drawn to a Facebook site dedicated to his cause. His wife, Paola Gourley, pleaded with Iranian authorities to release Maziar before their first child was born.

On Oct. 17, the regime let Maziar out on bail almost as suddenly as it had arrested him, and with almost as little explanation. Through his months in solitary confinement, he had never once been allowed to see a lawyer, although he was pushed in front of government television cameras to confess that he had inadvertently helped to promote a "velvet revolution" against the Islamic Republic in the wake of the bitterly contested June 12 election that returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power. …

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