BBC urges United Nations to help protect rights of its Iranian staff

A pedestrian walks past a BBC logo at Broadcasting House in central London

The BBC said it was planning a series of events in partnership with the International Federation of Journalists this week during the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

"This is not just about the BBC - we are not the only media organisation to have been harassed or forced to compromise when dealing with Iran", said Hall.

In 2015, the Iranian Culture Ministry said it would let some BBC journalists temporarily work in the country, limiting the maximum duration of stay to one week.

"In fact, during the past nine years, the collective punishment of BBC Persian Service journalists and their families has worsened", added Hall. "Targeting family members in Iran in an attempt to silence journalists working in London must be stopped; the global community must act now".

The decision by the broadcaster comes after an Iranian court a year ago froze the assets of more than 150 people associated with its Persian service.

The BBC's Farsi-language service was barred from operating in Iran after the country's disputed 2009 presidential election.

The Iranian judiciary had attempted to create a criminal record for the BBC staff members in absentia, accusing them of "collaboration and conspiracy to commit crimes against national security".

Other harassment by Iran has seen family members of BBC staffers arbitrarily detained, subject to travel bans or watched by intelligence service operatives, the broadcaster said. The service is funded by the BBC and remains editorially independent.

"Iranians now increasingly turn to the global media to find out what is happening in their own country".

Mohammad Javad Larijani, the head of the Iranian judiciary's Human Rights Committee, dismissed allegations against Iran by both the United Nations and others as "racist" and "dictated in Washington, France and London and other places".

Lawyers for the BBC World Service in October filed an urgent appeal to UN Special Rapporteurs David Kaye and Asma Jahangir on behalf of its Persian Service staff.

"The longer the global community is silent on Iran's human rights abuses, the more emboldened and powerful rights violators inside the country become" said Ghaemi.

On March 12, BBC Persian journalist Kasra Nouri reported "more than 30 staff have lost parents and been unable to say goodbye in the past decade".

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