Tuesday, September 28, 2021

BBC appeals to UN over Iran’s harassment of Persian staff

The BBC has complained to the UN about Iran’s harassment of its Persian-language staff.

According to the British broadcaster, Iranian agents have threatened to kidnap London staff and take them to Iran.

The BBC’s legal team has urged the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to take action on the issue.

BBC Persian is a very popular source of information for Iranians, boasting an estimated 18 million regular readers and listeners — around a quarter of the country’s population.

In an internal survey of 102 BBC Persian staff carried out in March last year, 71 said they had experienced harassment.

A third have also had one or both parents harassed or called in for questioning by Iranian authorities, and over half say they feel under pressure to leave their jobs.

In one instance, a reporter received threats to her life via online messaging platform Skype, and was told to quit her job — or spy on her colleagues — in return for the release of her 27-year-old sister who had been detained in Iran.

Tehran also froze the assets of BBC Persian staff in 2017. A year later, it accused all 152 current and former staff of “conspiracy against national security,” and initiated criminal investigations against them.

On Thursday, the BBC hosted a virtual side event to coincide with a UNHRC meeting, in which it raised concerns about an escalating campaign of harassment by Iran toward its Persian journalists and other Persian-language media.

BBC Persian reporter Kasra Naji spoke at the event and revealed the threats and cyberbullying that he, his colleagues and their families have endured.

He said in December 2020, six staff members had family called in for questioning by Tehran’s intelligence agents. All were told to pass on death threats to their London-based relatives.

Read the complete article at: Arab News

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