In the background on the continuing protests across Iran, the Persian-language media based outside the country, have become the major source of alternative news and information for Iranians.
Now, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has condemned the Iranian government’s attempt to silence coverage of the current wave of protests by Persian-language media overseas.
Domestic media outlets which are under strict government control have ignored the anti-government protests in more than 100 cities throughout the country during the past eight days, in which scoes of people have been killed and around 17,000 have been reportedly arrested, including several citizen-journalists.
Letter to OFCOM
Yesterday, the Iranian embassy in London wrote to the United Kingdom’s Office of Communications (OFCOM), which regulates the broadcast media, asking it to censor Persian-language media based in the UK on the grounds that their coverage of the protests had been inciting people to “armed revolt.”
The letter’s two main targets are Manoto, a privately-owned TV channel based in London, and BBC Persian, the state-owned BBC’s Persian-language TV channel, which many Iranian activists and intellectuals nonetheless criticize for not distancing itself sufficiently from the Iranian government line.
“After disrupting Internet access and blocking social networks, the Islamic Republic of Iran is using the need to combat calls for violence and support for terrorism as a pretext for silencing the last sources of freely and independently reported news and information used by many Iranians,” said Reza Moini, the head of RSF’s Iran/Afghanistan desk.
RSF has previously criticized the attempts by the Iranian judicial system and intelligence services to influence the Persian-language sections of international media outlets by putting pressure on Iranian journalists based abroad and on their families still in Iran.
Iran is ranked 165th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.