Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji named 'press freedom hero'

VIENNA — The International Press Institute on Monday named Iranian journalist and dissident Akbar Ganji as its 59th "World Press Freedom Hero" in honour of his defence of freedom of speech and equal rights.

Ganji, 50, spent six years in Iran?s infamous Evin prison for articles that accused high-level political figures and clerics of involvement in the assassinations of intellectuals and dissidents, IPI said in a statement.

Despite the brutal conditions, he continued to write, outlining steps by which Iran could achieve a secular democracy and emphasising respect for human rights and an independent press and judiciary.

He was released in 2006 and left Iran but continued to campaign for freedom and liberty for his country, the statement said.

"His courage in the face of intimidation and his continued fight for truth and justice should serve as an inspiration to all of us," IPI interim director Alison Bethel McKenzie said.

"His struggle is especially relevant now, in light of the continued persecution of political prisoners in Iran."

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