Iranian journalist Ahmad Zeid-Abadi was awarded the Golden Pen of Freedom at the 17th World Editors Forum in Hamburg. However, as Zeid-Abadi has been imprisoned since 13 June 2009 because of "his defense of liberty and human rights," his fellow journalist and friend Akbar Ganji accepted the award in his honour.
Zeid-Abadi is the former chief editor of the Azad newspaper and has contributed to several other publications and broadcasts. World Editors Forum President Xavier Vidal-Folch told the audience that Zeid-Abadi was awarded for "his courageous actions in the face of persecution and for his outstanding contribution to the defence and promotion of press freedom".
In his emotional speech, Ganji said that a new kind of politics had started in Iran that means that a democratic election even in the limited conception will no longer exist. In these circumstances, Ahmad Zeid-Abadi opposed a tyrannical regime and thus he is in jail now.
Zeid-Abadi is a man of peace who believes, for example, in possibility of the peace between Israel and the Arabs through the establishment of an independent Palestinian state next to Israel, Ganji emphasised. "Zeid-Abadi is not a revolutionary and does not believe that violence is the way towards securing a democratic system that is committed to human rights and liberty," Ganji said.
Zeid-Abadi has also defended the rights of women and criticized Islamic discriminatory traditions. Being a liberal and a democrat, he believes that "a government is a product of people's will and must abide by it". All of these led Zeid-Abadi to write open and critical letters to the 'tyrant sultan' who rules Iran, Ganji noted.
"I have no doubt that if Zeid-Abadi was here with us, he would have shared the honor of these prestigious prize with other political prisoners," Ganji said. Ganji also believes that the public attention paid to destructive effect of the acts of injustice and violence on the family of Ahmad Zeid-Abadi is not sufficient.