Iran detains alleged journalists working for BBC Persian
LONDON/TEHRAN (BNO NEWS) -- Iranian authorities have reportedly detained several people who allegedly worked for the Farsi-language service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). The broadcaster denied the allegations.
Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Monday evening that "a number of people, deceived by the lie-spreading BBC Persian network," had been arrested. The report cited unnamed sources as saying that those arrested were allegedly receiving 'huge amounts' of money to collect news and information from Iran for the BBC.
But a statement from the BBC denied the report, claiming no BBC Persian staff members are currently working inside Iran. The arrests come just days after the BBC accused Iranian authorities of a campaign of bullying and harassment against those working for its Persian service.
"These latest reports appear to confirm our recent statements and should be of deep concern to all those who believe in a free and independent media," a BBC spokesperson said. "They admit that the Iranian authorities are engaged in a persistent campaign, intimidating and arresting people who they claim have connections with the BBC Persian service."
In a blog published on Friday, the BBC's Director General Mark Thompson wrote that he had seen "disturbing new tactics", including the targeting of family members of Persian service staff working outside Iran. He also said some staff had their Facebook and email accounts hacked.
In September 2011, Iran arrested six filmmakers who were allegedly paid to produce secret reports for the BBC Persian service. However, the corporation said they were independent and that it had merely bought the rights to broadcast their documentaries.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Iran is one of the worst countries in the world in regards to press freedom. Only Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea are considered to be worse environments for journalists.
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