Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence has issued a second statement regarding the arrest of a number of journalists in the past week, once again accusing them of having links to foreign media.
In a statement issued on February 5, the ministry accused the detainees of having connections with the BBC and claimed their case is similar to those of documentary makers and voice actors involved in dubbing films who’ve faced arrest in recent years.
In the past two years, a number of Iranian documentary makers and voice actors were arrested and accused of conspiring with foreign media against the regime.
Tuesday’s statement claims the detained journalists were part of a network reaching inside Iran as well as abroad. The authorities claim they have identified all the members of the network, even the ones outside Iran.
The statement says that many of the network members abroad are people who fled Iran following the 2009 election protests, which the Islamic Republic establishment refers to as a seditious movement.
“The central core of this network is in London with direct collaboration from three workgroups in Brussels, Paris and Istanbul,” the ministry writes.
The report claims that the network has more members outside Iran than inside.
Between January 26 and February 1, Iranian authorities arrested 17 journalists in Iran, and so far have released only one.
In its first announcement issued on February 1, the Intelligence Ministry accused the journalists of being connected with “foreign and anti-Revolutionary elements” outside Iran.
The earlier statement also indicated that while some of the detainees might soon be released, more might still be arrested.
The arrest of documentary makers in September of 2011 was also attributed to collaboration with Persian BBC. BBC denied having any employees in Iran and disputed the charges put forth by Iranian authorities.
The frequent arrest of Iranian journalists has been condemned by human rights groups inside and outside Iran, and Iranian journalists have written letters to the authorities demanding the release of their colleagues.