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UK firm ‘facilitating Iran’s human rights abuses'
By JOANNA PARASZCZUK
US pressure group accuses Arqiva of playing "harmful role" by transmitting IRIB programming.
A US-based pressure group accused a British company this week of facilitating
Iran’s human rights abuses by providing broadcasting services to the Islamic
Republic’s state media.
United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI) said it has
ramped up its campaign to get UK communications infrastructure company Arqiva to
stop broadcasting and transmitting networks operated by the state-controlled
Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).
Iran uses international
companies to provide the infrastructure for its broadcasting and telecoms
services, even as it ramps up its attempts to prevent civilian Internet use and
jams broadcasts from international news networks, including the Voice of America
and BBC Persian.
Arqiva facilitates the regime-controlled IRIB’s Persian
television transmissions as well as its English-language outlet Press TV and
Al-Alam in Arabic, according to UANI.
In January, the UK revoked Press
TV’s license to broadcast in Britain, after the channel aired an interview of
Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari obtained under duress during his 118-day
detention in a Tehran prison.
In March, two months after that decision,
the European Union added IRIB’s director, Ezzatollah Zarghami, to its sanctions
list, stating that IRIB had broadcast forced confessions of detainees as well as
a series of “show trials” in August 2009 and again in December 2011.
recent letter to Arqiva, UANI president Kristen Silverberg warned the British
company that it could run afoul of recent US sanctions legislation if it
continues to provide services to IRIB. The most recent legislation, passed in
April, sanctions entities that have sold or provided goods, services or
technologies to Iran or Syria likely to be used to facilitate computer or
network disruption, monitoring or tracking.
The pressure group also
accused Arqiva of acting contrary to the position on Iran of the British
government, which opposes human rights abuses.
“By facilitating IRIB’s
broadcast of libelous programs and hate speech against religious minorities,
forced confessions of peaceful dissidents and civil society activists, and “show
trials” of political prisoners, Arqiva is serving to further the Iranian
regime’s campaign of persecution and repression against its own citizens,”
In a response to a query from The Jerusalem Post
regarding its continued operations in Iran, an Arqiva spokesman said the company
supplied satellite services to a “wide range of international customers,”
provided their transmissions were “legal and licensed.” The company was in
“regular dialogue with the UK government and associated regulatory bodies in
other jurisdictions to ensure all legal criteria are complied with,” the
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, UANI spokesman Nathan Carleton
slammed Arqiva’s response, saying it did not address the pressure group’s
“It is irresponsible of Arqiva to treat the Iranian regime the
same as it does its other international customers, given the regime’s abysmal
human rights record and sponsorship of terrorism,” Carleton told the
He added: “Arqiva should cut all of its ties to Iran, and comply
with international sanctions that bar the suppression of free speech.”