Iran freezes assets of media channel for its protest coverage

Iran International released a statement saying they had their assets frozen. (Twitter: Iran International)

Iran has frozen the assets of “key” Iran International staff for the news channel’s coverage of the recent anti-government protests in the country, the Iranian judiciary’s news agency Mizan reported on Tuesday.

Launched in 2017, Iran International is a London-based, Persian-language news channel.

Mizan accused Iran International of planning terrorist attacks, attempting to overthrow the regime, and encouraging “thugs” to destroy public property.

“On this basis, Iran has imposed legal restrictions on key and effective” members of Iran International in regard to their assets in their home country, added Mizan.

Iran International says that since anti-government protests began in Iran, families of its staff in the country have been subject to harassment from Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence.

Iran International had protested what it described as “illegal and inhumane behaviour” towards the families of its staff in Iran and said that it will pursue a complaint against the Iranian regime through international bodies in a recent statement.

The statement said that in some cases, relatives of Iran International staff were taken off the streets and from their workplace by agents of the Ministry of Intelligence and told to contact Iran International staff and tell them to stop working with the news channel.

Iran International says the families of its staff in Iran are being targeted due to the channel’s coverage of the anti-government protests in the country - coverage that drew “millions of viewers” in Iran, according to the channel.

Relatives of Iran International staff in Iran are “innocent and have no control over their loved ones who work in the media abroad and should not be held hostage,” reads another part of the statement.

Protests in Iran began on November 15 in several towns after the government announced gasoline price hikes of at least 50 percent. They spread to 100 cities and towns and quickly turned political with protesters demanding top officials step down.

The Iranian government responded by shutting down the internet and with lethal force.

This is not the first time Iran has resorted to harassing the staff of Persian-language media outlets abroad.

In August 2017, Iran froze the assets of more than 150 BBC Persian staff in Iran.

Most recently, BBC Persian presenter Farnaz Ghazizadeh tweeted on Saturday that her 73-year-old father was “summoned and questioned by Iranian authorities in relation with my sister and myself working for the media outside Iran.”

“Our families are under pressure just because we are journalists #journalismisnotacrime,” she added in the same tweet.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:56 - GMT 06:56
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