THE BBC’S GLOBAL news chief has accused Iran of intimidating and bullying the families of its Iranian employees and called on the British government to act on Iran’s efforts “to undermine free media”.
In a blog post published today, the director of BBC World Service Peter Horrocks reiterated the broadcaster’s complaints of interference by Iranian authorities and said that “recent direction actions against the BBC by Iran cannot be ignored”.
Horrocks’ comments come after Iran’s intelligence chief claimed the BBC was acting as a front for British intelligence services. Several men have been arrested on suspicion of working for the BBC’s Farsi-language service. The BBC, which is banned in Iran, says that no one in Iran works for the Persian service.
Iranian authorities have been arresting, questioning and intimidating the relatives of around ten BBC staff members, according to Horrocks, while others had their passports confiscated. He says that “many” of the broadcaster’s Iranian staff in London are afraid to return to Iran because of the official reaction to the broadcaster.
The BBC had earlier claimed that Iran was jamming its signal and Horrocks said today that the jamming intensified recently.
“Hundreds of Iranian viewers have sent emails and used social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter” to contact the BBC about “how much they value us as a source of reliable independent news,” Horrocks said.
He dismissed accusations that BBC staff were working for MI6 or had been inciting terrorist attacks on Iran.