NUJ condemns further threats from Iranian government on journalists at BBC Persian and Iran International

  • 20 Oct 2022

The union also called on the BBC to reverse its decision to close BBC Persian Radio.

The NUJ has condemned the Iranian government as it increased sanctions and threats to individuals, security services and journalists at BBC Persian and Iran International for reporting the protests sweeping across the country following the death of Mahsa Amini after her arrest by the “morality police”.

The union also called on the BBC to reverse it decision to close BBC Persian Radio, saying its was a betrayal of their journalists who have already been targets of intimidation by the Iranian authorities. The plan will cut off a news and information lifeline for many in the country where the media is state controlled and heavily censored.

The BBC Persian service’s TV and radio broadcasters, and their families, have experienced attacks and threats by the Iranian authorities for the past decade. The latest announcement from Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the sanctions imposed on these individuals would include a ban on visas and entry into the country, the seizure of property and blockage of bank accounts.

The BBC had tweeted in support of its journalists, however at the same time has proposed to close BBC Persian Radio, with the loss of 9 jobs, as well as the closure of several posts elsewhere in the Persian service. 

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting organiser, said:

“These are the same journalists who have already experienced threats and intimidation from the Iranian authorities. While some of them may find other work as part of the corporation’s plans, others could be made redundant. We call for the BBC to reverse its decision to make anyone in the Persian service redundant – it seems madness especially at present.

“We also condemn the latest threats by the Iranian government against our members at the BBC and Iran International. To label journalists as terrorists for just doing their jobs is not acceptable. They are not terrorists and have simply been covering the protests sweeping the country and highlighting the violent response from the authorities that has left some of the protesters dead. They are heroes for shinning  a light on events that the Iranian Republic does not want the world to see. And now the families of those journalists who still live in Iran are living in fear of reprisals and having their assets frozen.”

The proposed closure of the radio station is part of a package of cuts at the World Service which could result in almost 400 jobs going. An editorial in the Observer called the closure of Persian Radio dismaying and short sighted, saying:

“For Iranians suffering a violent crackdown by a repressive regime opposed to free speech, independent media and open debate, trusted sources of unbiased, factual information are of critical importance.”

The Iranian government statement said: “The Islamic Republic of Iran, while imposing these sanctions, hold the British government accountable for supporting terrorists and human rights violators who organize and incite terrorist acts and disturbances in Iran from its territory.”


The NUJ held an event in Parliament, chaired by Grahame Morris, chair of the union’s cross-party Parliamentary Group, where BBC Persian presenter Nazanin Mazhari told BBC colleagues, MPs and peers how it important it had been for the BBC to reflect the voices of the women in Iran calling for democracy and freedom. Without the language services provided by the BBC, she said, it will be voices of only the dictators heard in many countries. She explained how she, her colleagues and their loved ones have been subject to intimidation, and their assets frozen, by the Iranian authorities, because of their journalism.


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