BBC submits ‘urgent appeal’ to UN over ‘Iranian abuse of women journalists’

The BBC has filed its fourth complaint with the United Nations (UN) over online abuse of female journalists working for its Persian service – after a presenter was photoshopped onto a pornographic image reportedly sent to her 14-year-old son in London became.

The channel has called on Iran to “investigate and prosecute” over the “relentless online attacks and harassment” women journalists face, including rape and death threats.

These include the publication of fake stories claiming that a BBC News Persian presenter was raped by a colleague known to Iranian audiences and a fake photo showing her with the “illegitimate child”.

The officers told her father that she kept it a secret from her family because she was embarrassed that a colleague had raped her.

Similarly, a blog was created under the name of a presenter describing her allegedly polygamous and lavish sexual lifestyle in London, using hacked photos from her Facebook page to make it appear authentic.

The story was picked up by a national newspaper in Iran, the broadcaster said.

Female journalists working for BBC News Persian said they oppose the use of social media as a journalistic tool and censor themselves online for fear of harassment.

The new complaint to the United Nations against Iran follows several attempts by the BBC since 2017 to address the risks women journalists face.

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Since BBC News Persian TV launched in 2009, journalists have been the subject of a campaign of harassment and intimidation, including prosecution and conviction in Iran for crimes against national security – some of which carry the death penalty.

Similarly, their families have been arbitrarily arrested and detained, blacklisted from jobs and their passports confiscated, with effective travel bans in place.

They were also pressured to force their family members to leave the BBC and return to Iran.

Because of the threats and abuse, BBC News Persian has no staff in Iran.

Liliane Landor, BBC International News Senior Controller and BBC World Service Director, said: “We deplore the violent, misogynistic and gender-based harassment that our women journalists face every day.

We deeply regret the violent, misogynistic and gender-based harassment our female journalists face every day.Liliane Landor

“Trustworthy and impartial journalism is fundamental to any democracy and only by working together can we keep journalists safe everywhere and ensure women’s voices are included.

“We must be able to operate freely, free from threats and free from abuse.”

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jennifer Robinson, Lawyer for World Service added: “Iran has international due diligence requirements to take action against those responsible.

“We call on the UN to condemn the attacks and ensure Iran honors its international obligations.”

There is a long history of enmity between the UK and Iran, dating back to 1953 when the CIA, along with British spies, orchestrated a coup against the elected government of then Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.

In 2017, an Iranian court froze the assets of more than 150 people linked to the Persian service, which remains in place despite ongoing domestic legal challenges.

BBC News Persian staff in London have also faced credible death threats, requiring police intervention and protection in the UK, they said.

The Metropolitan Police have been contacted for comment. BBC submits ‘urgent appeal’ to UN over ‘Iranian abuse of women journalists’

Fry Electronics Team

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