World News

Iranian bloggers win major press award

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Iranian bloggers won a major press award Friday for their efforts to cover the Islamic Republic’s disputed presidential election.

Iranian journalist Delbar Tavakoli, who fled the country after losing her job, received Friday the 2009 Mohamed Amin Award on behalf of the bloggers “for their commitment, bravery and dedication under harrowing conditions and extraordinary pressure while covering the presidential election.”

“Iranian bloggers redefined the concept of citizen journalism and social networking when they became the only source of news in Iran post-election,” Christoph Pleitgen, head of Reuters News Agency media business said in a statement.

Established in 1997 in honor of the late Mohamed Amin, a legendary Reuters African cameraman killed in an airline hijacking, the annual award typically honors individuals who work behind the scenes. It is sponsored by Thomson Reuters.

Dozen of reporters, photographers and bloggers have fled Iran or are still trying to leave for fear of retribution for their reporting after June’s disputed election. Many journalists were arrested while others have gone into hiding.

The Iranian government, which has closed down several newspapers in recent months, has accused the media of lying about the post-election protests.

“I dedicate this prize to the Iranian journalists who worked hard to let the world know what is happening in Iran,” Tavakoli said. “It is very hard to work as a journalist in Iran... The main reason for this is censorship.”

“I want to go back to my country... I put down my pen unwillingly for the first time in 13 years,” Tavakoli told Reuters in Istanbul where she accepted the prize. Born in Tehran, Tavakoli has worked as a journalist for the last 13 years. Prior to the elections in Iran, she covered women’s issues and tourism for the Sarmayeh and Etemad-e Melli newspapers and served as editor of the Shahr News Agency.

Reporting by Paul de Bendern; editing by Samia Nakhoul