Photographer Steps Forward to Claim Pulitzer Prize

In 1979 an anonymous journalist captured a picture of a firing squad in Iran. The photo was circulated around the world, and earned the Pulitzer Prize. Now, after 26 years, the man who took that photo is stepping forward to claim his prize.

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DEBORAH AMOS, host:

A photographer is claiming a Pulitzer Prize 27 years after he took the photograph that won it. The photograph was first published in 1979. It showed a firing squad in the midst of the revolution in Iran. In that picture, you see the instant that a row of blindfolded men crumpled over from the shots all except one blindfolded man who is still standing.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The image gave the world an early look at how Iran's Islamic rulers would treat their enemies. But when the photo was circulated, the photographer's name was withheld for his safety. And when the Pulitzer Prize board selected the photograph, it was forced to leave the photographer's name as anonymous. But last week The Wall Street Journal revealed Jahangir Razmi as the true photographer. And the reporter, Joshua Prager, spoke at NPR's WEEKEND EDITION SATURDAY.

Mr. JOSHUA PRAGER (Reporter, The Wall Street Journal): I was able to trace back who had sent the picture from Tehran to Brussels to the rest of the world. So it was really a matter of working backwards, following the picture from the United States through Brussels and back to Tehran.

AMOS: Now the Pulitzer Prize board will present the award, along with the $10,000 cash prize, to Razmi in May.

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Source of Prize-Winning Execution Photo Revealed

A government firing squad executes nine Kurdish rebels and two former police officers i i

hide captionA government firing squad executes nine Kurdish rebels and two former police officers of the deposed Shah of Iran after summary trials, Aug. 27, 1979. The next day, another 21 Kurdish rebels and military deserters were executed.

Corbis
A government firing squad executes nine Kurdish rebels and two former police officers

A government firing squad executes nine Kurdish rebels and two former police officers of the deposed Shah of Iran after summary trials, Aug. 27, 1979. The next day, another 21 Kurdish rebels and military deserters were executed.

Corbis

In 1979, the U.S.-backed Shah of Iran was overthrown by Islamic radicals, led by Ayatollah Khomeini. Later that year, a group of 11 Kurdish men were lined up and shot to death, accused of various crimes. Their executions at a municipal airport in Sanandaj, the capital of Kurdistan, followed a brief trial during which no evidence was presented.

A photograph capturing this event was published and eventually won a Pulitzer Prize, but the photographer's identity was kept secret to protect him. An account Saturday in The Wall Street Journal reveals the photographer's name — Jahangir Razmi — and story.

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