Statement by Pat Harrison on News Leaders’ Appeal for Release of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian

Harrison Applauds News Leaders for Their Efforts

Jan 11, 2016

Washington, D.C. (January 11, 2016)  Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) made the following statement regarding the letter to Secretary Kerry from 25 news executives around the country concerning Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian.

“I applaud the leaders of public and private national news organizations in their efforts to secure the release of Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian from prison in Iran.  Executives of PBS NewsHour, NPR and Frontline were among the twenty-five news leaders who wrote to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to forge a path for Jason’s release.

As Americans, we are fortunate to hold the First Amendment as a central value in our democracy and civil society. We must never take these freedoms for granted.

We are keenly aware that threats to journalists around the world are profound, ranging from unjustified imprisonment such as Jason’s case, to threats or harassment that can bring a chilling effect to reporting, to murder as we were reminded of on the recent first anniversary of the attack on the staff and reporters at Charlie Hebdo.  

We in public media are proud of our commitment to high-quality, trusted journalism.  On behalf of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, I want to express our enduring appreciation for the work and courage of all the public media journalists and staff here and abroad.”

The text of the letter can be read in full here:

Letter to Secretary Kerry from 25 news editors around the country

The letter below calling for the release of Jason Rezaian was sent January 8, 2016.

Dear Secretary Kerry:

Journalism is not a crime. Yet Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian has been imprisoned by Iran since July 2014 for doing his job. Iran has never offered any evidence that even makes a pretense of justifying this imprisonment. We know you agree that Iran should release Jason and on behalf of our organizations and journalists around the world, we are writing to urge you to maintain your efforts to forge a path to that release.

Americans are fortunate to live in a nation that respects the role of reporters and the tenets of journalism. As journalists, we understand how central an informed citizenry is to a well functioning democracy. The need for information does not stop at the water's edge. Many of our organizations employ journalists who, like Jason, operate in countries, like Iran, that do not always hold a high regard for the free flow of information. We understand the risks involved, and accept them in fulfilling our commitment to provide Americans and audiences worldwide with the information they need to make informed decisions.

At the same time, we depend on The United States and other democratic countries to stand behind the values that Jason represents. Independent journalism is recognized as a fundamental human right. Iran should recognize this, too, and free Jason. The United States has considerable leverage with Iran right now to press that point, and we urge you to continue to do so.


Stephen J. Adler
President and Editor-in-Chief

Raney Aronson-Rath
Executive Producer

Dean Baquet
Executive Editor
The New York Times

Bruce D. Brown
Executive Director
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

Kathleen Carroll
Senior Vice President and Executive Editor
The Associated Press

Steve Coll
Dean, Graduate School of Journalism
Columbia University

Stephen Engelberg

Jeffrey Fager
Executive Producer
60 Minutes

Pamela B. Fine
American Society of News Editors

Susan Glasser

James Goldston
ABC News

Anders Gyllenhaal
Vice President, News and Washington Editor

Sara Just
Senior Vice President, WETA & Executive Producer, PBS NewsHour

Andrew Lack
NBC News and MSNBC

Davan Maharaj
The Los Angeles Times

John Micklethwait
Bloomberg L.P.

Jason Mojica

Michael Oreskes
Senior Vice President of News and Editorial Director

David Remnick
The New Yorker

David Rhodes
CBS News

Robert J. Rosenthal
Executive Director
The Center for Investigative Reporting

Ben Smith

Marty M. Steffens
North America Chair
International Press Institute

Mike Wilson
Dallas Morning News

Jeff Zucker
CNN Worldwide


About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.