Istanbul meeting venue for BBC Persian staff after raid

Istanbul meeting venue for BBC Persian staff after raid

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Istanbul meeting venue for BBC Persian staff after raid

Hürriyet photo

Iranians working for the BBC’s Persian Service are increasingly choosing to meet their loved ones in Istanbul, especially after Tehran’s recent crackdown on people in Iran with suspected links to the British state broadcaster, a BBC employee said.

Iran’s semiofficial Mehr news agency reported the arrests Feb. 6; most of those detained are the family or friends of Iranians working for the BBC in London, an Iranian BBC employee told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday.

Iranians working for the BBC are afraid of visiting their country since they do not know what will happen to them in Iran, a BBC employee said.

“They are afraid of being arrested or questioned like others. Especially after Britain shut its Tehran mission following the storming of its [embassy], the families of our Iranian employees prefer to meet with them in Turkey because of the absence of visa requirements,” the source said.

“Our families, friends whoever we are in touch with is, under observation. They are trying to make our friends quit working for the BBC by putting our loved ones under pressure,” the employee said.
Mehr’s report said those arrested had been producing content and reports for the BBC since 2009 while also facilitating the training and hiring of some Iranian journalists.

The report did not name those arrested or say how many were detained.

 “We strongly condemn any actions against the families and acquaintances of BBC Persian staff,” the BBC said.

The employee said the only reason those arrested were suspected was due to the density of the phone traffic between Iran and the employees of the BBC Persian Service in London.

Tehran has accused the BBC of operating as a cover for British intelligence and of hosting Iranian dissidents. Last week, the BBC also accused Iran of intimidating the staff members of its Persian service.