Tehran, Oct 6 (ANI): Security forces in Iran have arrested, questioned and intimidated relatives of journalists working for the London-based BBC Persian Television.
The 'campaign of intimidation' comes just two weeks after the arrests of documentary film-makers in Tehran, accused of secretly working inside the country for the Farsi-language service.
Peter Horrocks, the head of global news at the BBC, said that relatives and friends of around ten of the channel's Iranian staff who work in the UK have been approached by the authorities, the Guardian reports.
"Passports have been confiscated, homes searched and threats made. The relatives have been told to tell the BBC staff to stop appearing on air, to return to Iran, or to secretly provide information on the BBC to the Iranian authorities," he wrote on the BBC blog.
"Many of our Iranian employees who live in London are fearful to return to their country because of the regime's attacks on the BBC. But although those journalists are beyond the direct reach of their government they are now subject to a new underhand tactic," he added.
Horrocks called on the Iranian government to "repudiate the actions of its officials" and urged the British government to "deter the Iranian government" from attempts to undermine media's freedom.
He also highlighted the plight of the imprisoned film-makers who Iran said have "painted a black picture of Iran and Iranians" by supplying the BBC with reports misrepresenting the country.
According to the paper, since the arrests, several Iranian officials have stepped forward to condemn the film-makers as "a group of terrorists, Baha'is, communists" and, in the words of Iran's minister of intelligence, Heydar Moslehi, "devil-worshippers".
BBC Persian that has also been accused by Iran regime of collecting information on behalf of MI6, is blocked in the country but millions of Iranians watch satellite channels illegally. (ANI)