The Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty provided timely and comprehensive multi-platform coverage in Farsi on last Saturday’s implementation of the historic nuclear pact between Iran and six world powers and the near-simultaneous news of the prisoner swap between the United States and Iran.
VOA’s Persian Service was the first international broadcaster with news in Farsi of Iran releasing four Iranian-American nationals, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and pastor Saeed Abedini, in exchange for seven Iranian nationals.
As the freed Americans were flying home, VOA Persian broadcast exclusive interviews with Ali Rezaian, Jason Rezaian’s brother; Naghmeh Abedini, Saeed Abedini’s wife; and Sarah Hekmati, Amir Hekmati’s wife. VOA also aired statements from Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee and other U.S. lawmakers, and carried a live interview with John Limbert, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iran and a U.S. prisoner during the Iran Hostage Crisis nearly four decades ago.
VOA Persian also provided extensive coverage of the implementation of the nuclear agreement with reporters based in Vienna at headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, where implementation of the deal was announced; from U.N. headquarters in New York; and from Washington, where reporters, commentators and guests from academia, think tanks and the journalism community provided expert analysis. VOA Persian also prepared several background packages prior to implementation of the pact.
VOA Persian also created a special section on its website for real-time updates, including a live-stream of its television programming as well as text, photos and video segments from its exclusive interviews and guest appearances.
In addition to its extensive coverage of last weekend’s developments, RFE/RL’s Radio Farda provided analysis and conducted interviews with Middle East experts, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, an Iranian lawyer and the founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran. She urged Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani to “reconcile with the Iranian people.” Farda also spoke with U.S.-based lawyer Farhad Alavi, who explained the legal implications of the nuclear deal for the United States.
Radio Farda also made available on its website President Obama’s message to the Iranian people and shared that piece together with the State Department’s video of the president’s statement on its Facebook page. That post generated more than 11,000 Likes and nearly 700 Shares.
For many in Iran, the BBG networks served as the only sources of accurate and unbiased coverage of the implementation of the nuclear deal and the hostage exchange. Iran is ranked “Not Free,” according to Freedom House’s 2015 Freedom of the Press Findings.