Persian BBC has announced that Islamic Republic security forces have been cracking down on the families and relatives of BBC employees and reporters.
Sadegh Saba, the director of Persian BBC, said in an interview that the Islamic Republic is putting unprecedented pressure on the families of their personnel, and in one case, the matter has become very serious.
He said: “Security forces in Iran have arrested one of the relatives of a Persian BBC employee and have made every effort to put the employee in London under pressure through this channel.”
The Neday-e Sabz Azadi website reported earlier that Revolutionary Guards officials have kidnapped in Iran a relative of a Persian BBC employee and then interrogated the person in London through video chat for about 40 minutes.
The report also indicates that the sister of another Persian BBC staff member has been arrested and was held in the Revolutionary Guards’ section of Evin Prison.
The report adds that the Revolutionary Guards have contacted the BBC staffer in London and forced her into an interview in exchange for her sister’s release.
After the interrogation, the sister of said journalist was reportedly taken to Marzieh Rasouli, another detained journalist, and advised to confess to “having links to Persian BBC.”
After the BBC journalist’s sister was released, she said she had submitted to making false confessions about her relationship with Persian BBC and that these confessions were videotaped.
Persian BBC announced that reports indicate that Iranian authorities have arrested several people in Iran and subjected them to pressure in order to obtain false confessions pertaining to connections with Persian BBC.
BBC chief Sadegh Saba has repeatedly stressed that “BBC has no employees or collaborators inside Iran, and if anyone confesses to being linked to them under pressure, such allegations are unfounded.”
He added that BBC is currently discussing the situation with its legal advisers and urges all human rights and international organizations to condemn the actions of the Islamic Republic authorities in this case.
Iran’s Intelligence Minister has been quoted as saying that “Persian BBC is not a mere media outlet but a front for a political-intelligence organization with a Baha’i-Zionist identity.”
Several Iranian journalists and filmmakers have also been arrested in recent months, accused of collaboration with Persian BBC.