Sahar Bayati is a journalist from Iran and has over ten years’ experience of working as a journalist, interpreter and news editor for various media outlets in Iran, including the dailies Kargozaran,Hamshahri and Tehran Emrooz; and for the news agencies Daypress and AFTAB. Bayati has a BA in Journalism and a BA in Foreign Policy.
After fleeing to Malaysia in July 2011, Sahar Bayati worked in a freelance capacity for the IranWire (based in the UK), BBC Persian Service, Raha TV (based in the UK) and Mihan magazine (based in Malaysia). Her recent reports include an investigation into the alleged involvement of the Iranian intelligence services in the drug trade and money-laundering in Malaysia.
Bayatis critical approach and writings on society caused her to be fired from her job both at theIslamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) and the Day Press. She was banned from working as a journalist for five years, and started receiving threats from governmental organisations. As a result of the pressure against her, Bayati decided to leave Iran, and arrived in Malaysia in 2011. There she was able to work as a journalist in Malaysia under a working visa, which was reportedly cancelled in early 2013 due to pressure from the Iranian Embassy in Malaysia on her employers. She has also reportedly been threatened by Iranian embassy officials and the Malaysian police over her journalistic activities in Malaysia.
Sahar Bayati says:
“In 2009, during and after the election in Iran, I was working for a Persian daily newspaper. Because of my reporting, I was charged by the Islamic Revolution Court with defamation and libel, sentenced to three years in prison and prohibited from leaving the country for six months after my release. The prison sentence was suspended following an appeal, and was replaced by a five-year suspension from reporting. I continued to try and work as a journalist under an alias, but it proved too difficult. In 2011 I left Iran and started my work in Malaysia. When I found some document and information about Iran drug trafficking and money laundry in Malaysia I received threats from the Iranian Embassy and l had to introduce myself to UNHCR. In 20 January I arrived in Haugesund.”
From her new safe haven in Haugesund city of refuge, she will continue working with several projects. She has already become a member of Haugaland KunstVerk and they are together working on a magazine on freedom in art and literature. Bayati is at the moment editing her short story for publishing and continues her job reporting for the London based IranWire (en.iranwire.com).