Dear Ms. Aben

Thank you for your message regarding Simon Farzami.

I first met the late Simon Farzami in 1968 when I started my own career as a cub-reporter for Kayhan International, Iran's English-language daily, and continued to see him in a professional context until the revolution in 1979.

At the time Farzami was a stringer for the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph and a contributor to Le Journal de Teheran, Iran's French-language daily. He was also number-two at Agence France Presse (AFP), then headed by Jean-Claude Berard. For more than 20 years Farzami also contributed to Pars , then Iran's only national news agency. At times Farzami also wrote news analyses and translated articles from the Western media, for the Persian-language daily Ettelaat and features for the weekly Ettelaat Haftegi.

Farzami was almost unique in Tehran's press corps because , as a polyglot, he could write for French, English and Persian-language media.

Farzami was a popular and respected member of the Tehran press corps and widely admired for his professionalism, experience, and sheer energy in pursuing news stories.

Farzami was a member of the Iranian Union of Journalists and, in his capacity as stringer for the Telegraph and correspondent for the AFP, was twice elected president of the Foreign Press Association in Tehran.

Farzami had a delectable sense of humour and an encyclopaedic knowledge of Iranian politics, economy, and culture. He was a among the founding members of the Tehran Philharmonic Society, and was active in a number of charities.

Farzami was born in Iran and remained a citizen of the country until the very end. He had refused to leave the country after the revolution thinking that, aged 70, he would not be able to stand the stresses of exile.

The fact that he was of Jewish faith was neither here nor there as Iran had been home to a strong Jewish community for almost 25 centuries and the question of religion never arose in media circles.

The charge of espionage brought against him by the Islamist regime was scandalous, to say the least.

He was, in fact executed by firing squad after a simulacrum of trial that lasted just seven minutes under Sadeq Khalkhali, a mullah known as "Judge Blood".

Farzami is one of two journalists that the Islamist regime put to death soon after its creation. In later years, however, dozens of other Iranian journalists were executed or murdered by the regime.

 For a more detailed background of those days you cold consult my book " Noosepepper: A History of the Persian Press in Turmoil" published by  International Press Institute (IPI). In the 1980s I also published a couple of articles on the subject in the British magazine Index On Censorship.

 I wish you every success in your project.

Best wishes

Amir Taheri

April 25, 2005