Hassan Rouhani was born on January 23, 1957, in Tehran, Iran. As a child, he attended secondary school and college in Tehran. He worked as a journalist and radio broadcaster.
Aged 25, he joined a student delegation to Turkey that created plans for the peace conference the following year. Upon his return, Rouhani became head of Iran’s mass communication office and later a correspondent for BBC’s Persian service. He was the first Iranian to develop an international profile in the role of newspaper editor, after writing the editorial of the Tehran Times, the country’s only English-language newspaper, in 1984.
Rouhani was nominated by the parliamentary speakership contest, but a second step to becoming the country’s president fell short.
Rouhani had a stint in exile in France during the Iran-Iraq war, before returning to Iran and working in a number of radio and television stations, as well as as a sports commentator.
Rouhani was elected President of Iran in 2009. During his first year in office, he faced down street protests inspired by the “Green Movement” which sought to demand greater political and social freedom in Iran. In June 2013, Rouhani signed an accord with the world’s five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (US, UK, Russia, China and France) plus Germany to limit Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
Rouhani’s opponents have accused him of betraying the reform agenda launched under former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rouhani dismissed the criticism as the the work of “foreign hands.” His opponents have also called for an end to systematic censorship of the media. The latter instance could threaten the functioning of the Iranian newspaper that Rouhani founded.