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Iranian Opposition Leader Shunned by Voice of America

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By: Kenneth R. Timmerman

In an apparent bow to the Obama administration’s policy of engaging the Iran regardless of its brutal crackdown on the pro-democracy movement, the Voice of America refused to air an interview with an opposition leader who returned to Iran in early July to take part in anti-regime demonstrations.

The leader risked his life to add his voice to the resistance in Iran, only to be shunned by the VOA, who stated that they were worried about legal issues, because the dissident had crossed Iran’s borders illegally.

Roozbeh Farahanipour, 37, was jailed and tortured by the Islamic Republic authorities 10 years ago for his role in leading the July 1999 student uprising at Tehran University. Since escaping Iran in late 2001, he has lived as a political refugee in the United States.

Farahanipour returned to Iran in early July to coordinate protests across Iran to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 1999 uprising.

Newsmax spoke to him while he was in Iran by satellite phone.

Read “Anniversary Protests Defy Regime.”

Voice of America’s Persian Service called Farahanipour’s satellite phone several times while he was in Iran to set up an interview, but editors told the reporter the next day they could not air it.

“They put my security at risk for half a day before actually doing the interview,” Farahanipour told Newsmax recently. “Then editors said they couldn’t air the interview because I had entered Iran clandestinely.”

Sources close to Farahanipour told Newsmax they believe the security breach caused by the VOA led Islamic Republic intelligence agents to a safe house where he spent a day while in Iran.

The raid on the safe house was announced with great fanfare last week by the intelligence services.

Ironically, given his treatment by Voice of America, the Islamic Republic News Agency called Farahanipour “an agent of the United States,” and boasted of the success of the intelligence services and the police in tracking down and arresting his supporters.

This is not the first time that the VOA has tried to silence critics of the Islamic Republic.

As Newsmax reported last month, VOA Persian Service editors refused to allow regular commentator Mohsen Sazegara to give advice on air that might help demonstrators to be more effective in resisting the regime’s intelligence forces.

Sazegara was a founder of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps who was jailed and tortured after he went into opposition against the regime in 1990s.

Read “Key Iranian Dissident Riled at Obama's Approach.”