Israeli officials blast BBC for muzzling Persian-language reports

“Very worrying,” tweeted Foreign Minister Director-General Yuval Rotem on Wednesday. “Caving in to a regime that abuses journalists and scorns media freedom is a dangerous precedent.”

By
July 17, 2019 23:04
1 minute read.
Missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran, Iran

Missiles and a portrait of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran. (photo credit: NAZANIN TABATABAEE YAZDI/ TIMA VIA REUTERS)

Senior Israeli officials have blasted “double standards” in Europe for holding conferences about freedom of the press while allowing Iran to muzzle the media.

“Very worrying,” tweeted Foreign Minister Director-General Yuval Rotem on Wednesday. “Caving in to a regime that abuses journalists and scorns media freedom is a dangerous precedent.”

Rotem’s comments included a link to a HuffingtonPost.com story reported earlier this week that said the BBC agreed to Iranian demands that it not share material gathered in Iran with its Persian-language channel, BBC Persian.

The story was based on an internal email obtained by the website.

The agreement was reportedly made with the Iranian government in exchange for Iran allowing a BBC correspondent into the country.

The email, sent Saturday to all BBC Persian staff by a BBC Persian digital editor, said BBC foreign correspondent Martin Patience and his team were in Iran “and due to leave on Sunday,” the HuffPost report said.

“It is absolutely imperative that none of their material is run on BBC Persian TV, radio or online now or in the future,” the email stated. “That includes any official BBC Persian social feed retweeting or forwarding the coverage. Please do not use the material and stories produced in Iran on any platform or in any format.”

The BBC issued a statement to HuffPost saying, “All international media are subject to reporting restrictions in Iran. We accepted some limitations on this occasion in order to provide our audiences with rare insights from inside the country, and this is signposted in our coverage. As ever, the BBC maintains full editorial control over what we broadcast.”

BBC Persian is a TV, radio and digital platform geared to the tens of millions of Persian speakers around the world.

The HuffPost report came just days after Britain hosted a press freedom conference, with the British Foreign Office tweeting, “This week we’ve sent a resounding message that media freedom is a universal value.”

Yiftah Curiel, former spokesman at the Israeli Embassy in London and now director of the Foreign Ministry’s department for digital diplomacy, tweeted: “I’ve worked with the pros at BBC for years. This is truly disappointing.”


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