The head of Iran’s security forces says Persian-language satellite networks are the “control room of disturbances” in Iran.
The Shargh newspaper cited Brigadier General Ahmadi Moghaddam as saying: “Satellite networks, especially the Persian-language ones, are mainly financed by the intelligence services of Iran’s enemies and are used to create cultural and political change in the country.”
Iranian authorities recently announced that any collaboration with the British Broadcasting Corporation or Voice of America is akin to working for “the enemy’s intelligence services.”
Moghaddam indicated that documentary makers, music groups and singers “can only collaborate with official and non-Persian satellite networks after acquiring the necessary permit from the Ministry of Culture and Guidance.”
In recent months, Iranian authorities arrested a number of journalists and documentary makers on the charge of “collaboration with Persian BBC.”
Most recently, Hassan Fathi was detained in Tehran about two weeks ago for giving an interview to the BBC about the explosion in a Revolutionary Guards garrison near Tehran.
When the Fars news agency reported that arrest, it referred to Fathi as a BBC reporter; however, the BBC says it has no employees or collaborators in Iran and that it interviewed Fathi, like many other journalists, academics and other figures in Iran, as an independent analyst.
Mehdi Afsharnik, Ali Akrami, Mohammad Heydari and Amirali Allamehzadeh are four other Iranian journalists arrested in Tehran in October, charged with collaborating with the BBC.
Since then, Afsharnik, Akrami and Heydari have been released but Allamehzadeh remained in custody.
Another six documentary makers were arrested in September for similar charges, and while five of them were gradually released, Mojtaba MirTahmasb remains behind bars, and his arrest warrant has been renewed for another two months.