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Back in Iran and on trial

A year after the bloody crackdown on Iranian protesters, the trials begin.

“I wanted to work and have never been political,” Saeedi said. “I was arrested for my work and I need to continue working.”

Saeedi swapped a comfortable house in Tehran and a high-visibility job working as the picture editor of a major news agency for a small apartment in a dust-choked street in Kabul’s Shahr-e Now district. The area is patrolled by Kalashnikov-toting soldiers and ringed with cement blast walls, barbed wire and police roadblocks searching for incoming suicide bombers.

Now almost permanently hunched over his laptop when not out chasing car-bomb aftermaths, Saeedi fields calls from media colleagues, monitors international news coverage of Afghanistan, and arranges stories to shoot in the neighborhoods of Kabul.

“I’ve become a war photographer,” he said, sipping from a cup of tea as he sought to arrange access to the Kangoral Valley shortly after the Taliban seized it from retreating American forces in April. “We’re the people that are sent in to do the most dangerous, most risky work.”

When not dealing with war zones where few Western photographers would ever dream of venturing, Saeedi worries about his impending court date in Tehran. His trial date has been set close to the one-year anniversary of last June’s elections which is widely expected to become a flash point for opposition sympathizers. 

“If the law were to be respected, I would be proven innocent because I did nothing but my duty as a photojournalist,” Saeedi said in Kabul. “In the way that I photographed [opposition figure Mir-Hossein] Mousavi’s campaign I also photographed Ahmadinejad’s.”

“Why should I be judged for photographing Mousavi but not Ahmadinejad?”


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