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Support for BBC Persian Service campaign grows


21 November 2017

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) executive committee, representing 600,000 media workers across the world, has unanimously voted to support the BBC Persian journalists global campaign to stop the targeting, harassment and persecution of journalists and their families by the Iranian authorities.

In addition, the UK Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, during the FCO questions session in parliament today, responded to a question from Diana Johnson MP, and agreed to take up the BBC Persian Service case when speaking with his counterparts in Iran.

Hull North MP Diana Johnson said: "The United Nations special rapporteur on freedom of expression and human rights report that the Iranian regime has undertaken a campaign of harassment, persecution and intimidation against staff of the BBC Persia Service and their families, aimed at preventing [them] doing their job. Can the Foreign Secretary say what representations he's made to the Iranians about this?"

Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, and MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, said: "We have made repeated representations to the Iranians about human rights concerns, but I will certainly be happy to take up the issues she raises in person in the course of my visit to, my projected visit to Iran in the next few weeks."

The NUJ welcomes the IFJ executive’s support and solidarity, and is pleased the UK Foreign Secretary has now committed to highlighting the case of BBC journalists working in Britain who are being targeted by the Iranian authorities for simply doing their job.  

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“The NUJ welcomes the growing support for the campaign offered by journalists’ leaders across the globe and the UK’s Foreign Secretary. For the past eight years, BBC Persian journalists have not been able to travel safely to Iran, and their families in Iran have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, interrogation and travel bans. We will use every avenue available to try and stop the targeting of BBC Persian Service journalists, they should not be collectively punished and persecuted for simply doing their jobs.” 

The Iranian authorities have started a criminal investigation against journalists working for the BBC’s Persian Service in London, alleging their work is a crime against Iran’s national security. This has been accompanied by an asset-freezing injunction preventing 152 named individuals, comprising mainly current and former BBC Persian staff, from buying or selling property inside Iran.
Since the BBC’s Persian Service TV started broadcasting into Iran in 2009, BBC Persian staff in the UK and their families in Iran have been subjected to an onslaught of harassment, persecution, intimidation, interrogation and travel bans. The targeting of BBC Persian Service journalists and staff has continued for the last eight years – but these recent measures constitute an escalation in their persecution.

Tags: , iran, ifj, parliament uk, bbc, broadcasting, bbc persian service, journalist safety, journalists in the uk, journalists intimidated, journalists' rights, press freedom