Ayatollah Ali Khamenei prays 390.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran sharply criticized the BBC on Friday for airing what it said was “illegal
footage” of Tehran in a new documentary examining the history of Iran’s
relationship with Israel, from the Babylonian exile through the present
BBC Persian – whose broadcasts are jammed in Iran – posted
Iranian- Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari’s film, From Cyrus to Ahmadinejad, on
its website last week, where it is still available for viewing. The
Persian-language channel has also organized a showing of the documentary at
London’s Frontline Club later this month.
In March, BBC Persian also
broadcast an interview with Bahari, in which he discusses the
Bahari’s documentary includes interviews conducted at the BBC World
Service office in Tehran, and the London-based filmmaker also traveled to Israel
to interview deputy prime minister Moshe Ya’alon as well as Iranian-born
The 55-minute film examines Israel’s relationship with Iran
from the time of Persian King Cyrus the Great, who helped the Jews return to
Israel from exile in Babylonia in the sixth century BC, through the Jewish
state’s covert dealings with Iran both before and after the fall of the Shah in
the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
On Friday, the Basij paramilitary militia
website ran a statement saying that BBC Persian was broadcasting the documentary
illegally, because of a ban on airing footage taken in Iran.
afternoon, an almost identical statement appeared on Iran’s state-run Press TV’s
English and Persian websites, although the Persian version noted that Bahari had
visited the “occupied Palestinian territories” to make his film, whereas the
English version referred to a visit to “Israel.”
Iran’s anger over
Bahari’s documentary is also the latest development in an ongoing row over the
UK’s decision in January to revoke Iran’s state-owned Press TV’s license to
broadcast in Britain, after the Iranian channel aired an interview last year of
Bahari obtained under duress during his 118-day detention in a Tehran prison in
The Iranian authorities arrested Bahari during the 2009 Iranian
election protests. After he left Iran, the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary
court tried him in absentia and sentenced him to 13.5 years in prison and 74
After Bahari complained about Press TV’s airing his interview
“confession” last May, UK media regulator, Ofcom ruled that the Iranian
broadcaster had seriously breached British broadcasting regulations by airing
that interview. A month later, the UK froze Press TV’s assets, a move the
state-owned channel dubbed “a British style conspiracy.’ Press TV later accused
Bahari of being an “MI6 contact person,” and said Ofcom was linked to
pro-Israeli British politicians.
In Thursday’s statement, Press TV
accused the British royal family of being behind Ofcom’s move to revoke its UK
license, saying that the Islamic Republic’s TV channel had angered the monarchy
because of its coverage of last April’s Royal Wedding.
development last week, Munich-based media regulator BLM announced it was
dropping Press TV from its SES Astra satellite channel, stating that the
broadcasting company does not have a license to broadcast in Europe.
reacted angrily to the move, with the Judiciary of Iran’s High Council for Human
Rights dubbing the decision “clearly part of a plot by the West to silence the
voice of the Iranian English language channel.”
Press TV, which slammed
the move as illegal, has launched a lawsuit against BLM.