Iran: BBC Persian TV threat to Iran 'security'

Country's intelligence minister says Islamic Republic will take steps over launch of new television channel.

irani intel minister 298 (photo credit: Courtesy)
irani intel minister 298
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Iran's intelligence chief said that a BBC Persian-language television channel being launched Wednesday is contrary to Iran's "security." Intelligence Minister Gholam Hossein Mohseini Ejehi was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying Iran would take steps over the issue. "We don't consider this channel to be appropriate for our security. We will take the necessary measures in this regard," Ejehi said. Ejehi didn't specify measures Iran will allegedly take against the British channel. Iranian hard-liners have warned in recent weeks that BBC was seeking to use the channel to recruit "spies." BBC Persian TV started broadcasting 1330 GMT Wednesday, the British Broadcasting Corporation later said. The channel earlier said it would be seen in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and elsewhere and dismissed Iranian claims of espionage purposes. Iran has refused to issue press accreditation to BBC Persian TV correspondents, saying the channel is not authorized to operate in Iran. BBC Persian TV, to be broadcast from London every day from 1330 to 2130 GMT, will be the broadcaster's second foreign-language TV channel. It launched BBC Arabic last year. The company has also run a Persian-language radio service since 1940, and it operates a Persian-language news site online. The broadcaster has a bureau in Teheran for its English-language service but hasn't been allowed to open one for its Persian-language service. Last month, a prominent Iranian lawmaker accused the BBC of seeking to recruit, in collaboration with the British Embassy in Teheran, reporters in Iran as potential spies. Mohammad Karim Abedi, a member of the Foreign Policy and National Security Committee of the Iranian parliament, said Iranian secret services have learned that the BBC was intent on setting up an intelligence network under the cover of journalistic activities. BBC spokesman Mike Gardner said last week that the only goal is to report on world events in an impartial and editorially independent manner. But he conceded that his company has a complex relationship with the Iranian authorities. In addition to Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, BBC Persian TV will be received in Britain, Dubai and most other countries in the Persian Gulf through Hotbird and Telstar satellite and cable services.