A UN Fact-Finding Mission on Iran has reported on the threats faced by BBC News Persian journalists and their family members.

Published by the UN Human Rights Council’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Islamic Republic of Iran, the report raises concern that the Iranian authorities “harassed, threatened and intimidated journalists and other media employees working outside the country”, including those working at BBC News Persian, and for including BBC News Persian on a list of sanctioned organisations.

4. BBC Persian

UN Fact-Finding mission on Iran has reported the threats faced by BBC News Persian journalists and family members

The Fact-Finding Mission was set up by the UN Human Rights Council in November 2022, to investigate “the deteriorating situation of human rights in Iran, especially with respect to women and children” and human rights violations in Iran related to the protests that began on 16 September 2022.

The BBC World Service filed a submission highlighting Iran’s harassment of BBC News Persian journalists and their families in Iran.

Focusing on Iran’s treatment of journalists working for Persian-language media outside Iran, the report said: “The mission has further established that the State authorities harassed, threatened and intimidated journalists and other media employees working outside the country, including those working at the BBC Persian service, Iran International television, Voice of America, IranWire and Deutsche Welle. The Iranian authorities summoned, threatened and in some cases arrested, detained and charged the family members of those journalists and media workers in an apparent effort to exert pressure on them and prevent them from reporting on the country.”

The report also noted that in October 2022, Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sanctioned the BBC Persian service and Iran International television, and imposed asset freezes on their staff. “Journalists also received serious threats, including to their lives and personal safety, leading to the involvement of the police in some countries. Journalists, in particular women journalists, faced heightened online vilification, harassment and attacks,” said the report.

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The BBC said that it had recently become aware, through the publication of leaked documents, that a number of current and former BBC News Persian journalists have reportedly been secretly convicted in absentia in Iran of the crime of “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”.

BBC Director-General, Tim Davie, said: “These developments add a new, even more sinister dimension to the threats and harassment our BBC Persian journalists have been exposed to for decades as punishment for doing their job. Instead of taking heed of the repeated calls from the UN and other international organisations to stop the horrendous multi-faceted harassment of Persian-language journalists, the Iranian authorities have been devising even more means of persecution using the Iranian judiciary. The Iranian authorities must stop harassing our journalists and their families.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary, added: “Iran’s all-out war on Iranian journalists abroad is a cowardly attempt to hide the truth by silencing its conveyors. For more than a decade, NUJ members and their families have been subjected to increasingly more harassment and threats, be it by Iranian authorities abusing legal system of the country or even by hiring criminals to directly target journalists on UK soil. This must be stopped now.”

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