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BBC Accuses Iran Of Cyberattack

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

March 15, 2012

The BBC has suggested that a cyberattack against it on March 1 was part of Iranian efforts to disrupt the BBC’s Persian Service, which along with other foreign broadcasters has long proved an irritant to the clerically dominated regime.

The BBC reports that its director general, Mark Thompson, plans to level the charges against Iran in an upcoming speech to Britain’s Royal Television Society.

In an advance extract from the speech, Thompson reportedly says the Internet attack coincided with efforts to jam two of the BBC Persian Service’s satellite feeds into Iran.

Thompson’s speech says the coincidence of the attacks is “self-evidently suspicious.”

Last month, Thompson accused Iran of intimidating Persian service workers.

The nongovernmental group Reporters Without Borders — which named Iran as an “enemy of the Internet” earlier this week — has complained about the Iran’s so-called cyber army, created by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in 2010.

Iranian authorities block broadcasts and otherwise target the operations of foreign broadcasters including BBC, Germany’s Deutsche Welle, and U.S. broadcasters RFE/RL and Voice of America.

Tehran also has waged a long-running campaign against the use of satellite TV dishes, although such receivers remain hugely popular among Iranians.

Detainees accused of collaboration with Persian BBC

Sunday, February 26th, 2012



The organized crime branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps announced today that Persian BBC has been waging a “soft war” against the Islamic Republic.

ISNA reports that in a statement issued on February 25, the IRGC accused “Parastoo Dokouhaki, Sahameddin Bourghani, Marzieh Rasouli, B. H. and S. K.” of being Persian BBC agents and committing “anti-security crimes.”

The accusations come despite repeated announcements by Persian BBC officials denying they have any employees or collaborators in Iran.

The IRGC’s organized crimes branch says these individuals were instrumental in a so-called “Eye of the Fox Operation” guided by the BBC, adding that they have filed criminal charges against 24 individuals in connection with this case, 10 of whom are outside Iran.

The announcement also indicates that in the next few days the first part of a documentary on the “Eye of the Fox” operation will be aired on Iranian state television.

Parastoo Dokouhaki, a women’s rights activists and one of Iran’s first bloggers, was arrested in January. Two days later, Marzieh Rasouli, another journalist, was arrested in Tehran, followed by Sahammedin Bourghani, also a journalist.

B.H. is the sister of a Persian BBC employee in Europe who was forced to undergo a 40-minute interrogation over the internet while the sister was being held in custody in Iran.

The identity of the last individual with initials S. K. has not been established yet.

Several journalists have been arrested in Iran and accused of collaboration with the BBC since the network aired a documentary about Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei last September.


Iran ‘detains alleged BBC Persian journalists’

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012


7 February 2012 Last updated at 06:39 ET

Mehr news agency said they were involved in newsgathering, recruiting and training for Iranian journalists and had arranged trips abroad for them.

A BBC statement said no BBC Persian staff members were working inside Iran.

It said the reports “should be of deep concern to all those who believe in a free and independent media”.

Last week, the BBC accused the Iranian authorities of a campaign of bullying and harassment against those working for its Persian service.

‘Anti-security crimes’

On Monday evening, a report by the semi-official Mehr agency cited an unnamed “knowledgeable source” as saying that “a number of people deceived by the lie-spreading BBC Persian network” had been arrested.

The source said they had “the mission of gathering news and information, producing content in various formats, recruiting, training and preparing for the departure of Iran’s elite media workers from the country”.

They had committed “many anti-security crimes as part of their co-operation with this network” since 2009, when mass protests erupted after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the source added.

“The case of the detained people will be handed over to the judiciary department for the issuance of a verdict after the final compilation and preparation of the charges,” the source stated, without naming them.

“As has been previously said, any kind of co-operation with the BBC Persian channel is illegal and will be prosecuted.”

In a statement, the corporation reiterated that there were “no BBC Persian staff members or stringers working inside Iran”.

“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 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.”

‘New tactics’

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.

Mr Thompson revealed that the sister of one man had been arrested the previous week and held in solitary confinement on unspecified charges at Evin Prison in the capital, Tehran.

“Although she has now been released on bail, her treatment was utterly deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.”

Mr Thompson also said some staff had had their Facebook and email accounts hacked, and been subjected to a “consistent stream of false and slanderous accusations… ranging from allegations of serious sexual assault, drug trafficking, and criminal financial behaviour”.

In September, Iran arrested six film-makers, accusing them of working for BBC Persian. The corporation said they were independent, and that it had merely bought the rights to broadcast their documentaries.

Human Rights Watch said the harassment of BBC Persian staff was part of a wider campaign to stifle freedom of information in Iran ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for next month.

It also comes amid mounting tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme.

On Tuesday, Iranian media said MPs were considering a bill to prohibit the export of oil to the European Union, which approved a ban on Iranian oil imports last month in reaction to Tehran’s continued refusal to halt uranium enrichment. The EU buys about 20% of Iran’s oil exports.



Iran’s Press TV loses UK licence

Friday, January 20th, 2012



Iranian news network Press TV has had its licence revoked by the media regulator Ofcom and will no longer be allowed to broadcast in the UK.

Ofcom said the state broadcaster’s English language outlet had breached several broadcasting licence rules over editorial control of the channel.

Press TV has also failed to pay a £100,000 fine imposed last year.

The channel called the decision “a clear example of censorship”. It will be removed from Sky on 20 January.

The £100,000 fine was imposed last year after the network broadcast an interview with imprisoned Newsweek and Channel 4 journalist Maziar Bahari, which the Ofcom said had been conducted under duress.

Ofcom said Press TV had “indicated it is unwilling and unable to pay”.

It was during the investigation into the Bahari interview that the media regulator formed the impression that editorial decisions on the channel were being controlled by the offices in Tehran, instead of the UK.

Press TV was given the opportunity to respond and make the relevant amendments needed to comply with the broadcasting code, but “failed to make the necessary application”, Ofcom said.

In a statement issued to the BBC, Press TV’s newsroom director Mr Hamid Emadi said: “We asked Ofcom if Press TV Limited did not have control over the broadcast, why was it getting fined, if it did have control, why would the licence be revoked?

“Ofcom contradictions are nothing new for Press TV. The British government’s tool to control the media has, on several occasions, changed its decisions regarding Press TV in its two-year campaign against the alternative news channel.”

The statement also claimed that Ofcom, which it called “the media arm of the Royal family”, had failed to respond to a letter sent by its Chief Executive earlier this month.

Press TV channel launched in 2007 to break what Iran’s state broadcaster called a Western “stranglehold” over the world’s media.


Iran intimidates relatives of British-based journalists: BBC

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011


AFP – LONDON — Iranian authorities have launched a campaign of intimidation against relatives and friends of British-based Iranian journalists working for the BBC, the broadcaster said on Wednesday.

Security forces in Iran are targeting family and friends of some 10 London-based BBC staff working for the broadcaster’s Persian service, director of BBC Global News Peter Horrocks said.

People had been arrested and intimidated, homes searched and passports confiscated, he wrote in a blog post.

“The relatives have been told to tell the BBC staff to stop appearing on air, to return to Iran, or to secretly provide information on the BBC to Iranian authorities,” Horrocks wrote.

The intimidation increased dramatically following the broadcast of a BBC documentary about Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei around a month ago.

“Many of our Iranian employees who live in London are fearful to return to their country because of the regime’s attacks on the BBC,” he said.

Iran had also intensified in recent weeks its jamming of international Persian language television stations, including BBC Persian TV and the Voice of America’s Persian TV, he said.

“We are seeing the levels of intimidation and bullying as well as attempts to interfere with our independence reaching new levels,” Horrocks wrote.

The new claims by the BBC come after Iran announced on September 17 that six people had been arrested for allegedly gathering information for the broadcaster’s Persian service.

In Wednesday’s blog post, Horrocks said that “although these film-makers have never been employed or commissioned by the BBC, they are paying the price for an indirect connection to the BBC.”

He called on the British and other governments to take action.

The Foreign Office in London condemned the Iranian regime and said British officials had raised the matter with their Iranian counterparts.

“We are aware of the ongoing difficulties for the BBC in Iran, which we condemn utterly,” said a Foreign Office spokesman.

“The blocking of BBC Persian signals and arbitrary arrest of documentary makers not directly connected to the BBC by the Iranian regime should also be condemned.

“We have raised this issue directly with the Iranian authorities.”


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