Iran detains, harasses relatives of BBC Persian service staff

New York, February 3, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the detention and harassment in Iran of relatives of BBC Persian service staff who work outside the country, which is part of a sustained campaign to intimidate journalists into not reporting critically on Tehran’s activities.

Last week, the sister of a BBC Persian service staffer was arrested and held in solitary confinement at Tehran’s Evin Prison on unspecified charges, the BBC said today. The sister has since been released on bail, the BBC said.

According to Human Rights Watch, the BBC employee in London was questioned online by a “man who claimed he was an interrogator at Tehran’s Evin Prison” and told that if the employee “cooperated and provided him with contacts and sources at the BBC, the authorities would free the detained family member,” who was held for close to two weeks.

“Iran’s government must immediately stop its harassment of the friends and family members of journalists,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator. “These attacks on journalists beyond Iran’s own borders show the lengths to which Tehran will go to intimidate the media into silence and deprive its constituents of information.”

In a statement posted online, the BBC said a number of relatives of staff at the Persian service have been temporarily detained and “urged to get their relatives in London to…stop working for the BBC.” Other tactics of harassme… >>>

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