Iranian journalist and rights advocate Emadeddin Baghi was supposed to accept an award for civil courage in New York City this week, but Iranian authorities detained him at Tehran airport, seized his passport and prevented from leaving the country. A relative of the journalist says he will continue to fight for reforms in Iran, despite pressure from the Iranian government to silence him.
Mr. Baghi has written about the abusive treatment by Islamic clerics of secular Iranians who support democracy, and alleged government involvement in the murders of some 80 political activists. His books have been banned in Iran, and last year he was released from prison after serving three years on charges of abandoning the Islamic faith. The conservative government in Iran has also recently prevented him from publishing a newspaper, marking the eighth time one of his publications has been shut down by Iran's Islamic authorities.
His uncle, Heibatollah Baghi, says his nephew wasn't surprised when he was blocked from leaving Iran in order to fly to New York to receive an award honoring his courage in the face of personal risk.
"His philosophy is in the millimeter revolution. Change is little by little. Then he believes that hope and courage are the main motives for what he is doing, basically," he said.
Mr. Baghi, who is a professor at George Mason University in Virginia, is accepting the award on his nephew's behalf. The 50,000 prize is given by the Northcote Parkinson Fund, a private foundation that encourages individual and political freedom.
The foundation is also honoring Lovemore Madhuku, a lawyer from Zimbabwe and staunch advocate of constitutional reforms. Mr. Madhuku has been imprisoned and beaten for his attempts to institute democratic change in his country. He is the founder of the National Constitutional Assembly, a coalition of citizens resolved to change Zimbabwe's repressive laws.