Kamali Dehghan (international, 2011), who was born and grew up in Iran, began writing for The Guardian in 2009 when he covered protests following the disputed Iranian presidential election. Due to media restrictions in Iran he is now based in London.
Kamali Dehghan, who holds a degree in rolling stock engineering, has won two major awards. Last year, while still at City, he was named Journalist of the Year at the Foreign Press Association Awards. He also won the Peabody Award in 2011 for the HBO documentary he co-produced, For Neda.
The 26-year-old said he was “delighted to be recognised” for his work, but is humble when he compares himself to war reporters in Syria who have lost their lives for giving voice to the suppressed. He said: “The ultimate risk in Iran was being arrested.”
Nevertheless, he faced many challenges while filming For Neda in 2010. The documentary tells the story of Neda Agha-Soltan who was killed during the election protest. “Everything had to be undercover,” he said. The main difficulties were finding her family and “finding professional cameramen to film the interviews”. Professional equipment would have caught the police’s attention.
Journalism is an old love for Kamali Dehghan. His interest in newspapers goes back to his school years, when Iran had a reformist president, Mohammad Khatami. “There were lots of newspapers critical of the government.”
Although he was more interested in literary journalism, he soon gained experience as a political reporter. The “fascinating” 2009 election proved key in motivating him to write about politics and contribute to The Guardian.
Kamali Dehghan has a deep affection for his homeland. He said: “I would go to Iran tomorrow if I could”. However, because of his coverage of Iran for The Guardian and because of his documentary For Neda, this is impossible at the moment.
Asked about his future plans, Kamali Dehghan said: “What I wish to do is write novels, but I don’t think I’ll abandon journalism. It’s perhaps too late [for that].”
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