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BBC accuses Iran of intimidating journalists

By the CNN Wire Staff
February 7, 2012 -- Updated 1148 GMT (1948 HKT)
Supporters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hold up placards with slogans against the British media in June 2009.
Supporters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hold up placards with slogans against the British media in June 2009.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Iranian media outlet says people working for the BBC Persian service are arrested
  • The BBC says there are no Persian service journalists in the country
  • It accuses Iran of putting pressure on the families of BBC journalists

London (CNN) -- Iranian authorities are "intimidating and arresting people who they claim have connections with the BBC Persian service," the British broadcasting giant said Tuesday.

The accusation comes a day after Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency said that "a number of people" secretly working for the BBC Persian service had been arrested.

The BBC said that could not be true.

The BBC "Persian language service does not have a presence in Iran. There are no BBC Persian staff members or stringers working inside Iran," the broadcaster said in a statement.
"We strongly condemn any actions against the families and acquaintances of BBC Persian staff," it said.

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BBC director general Mark Thompson last week accused Iran of putting pressure on the family members of BBC Persian journalists.

"In recent months, we have witnessed increased levels of intimidation alongside disturbing new tactics," he wrote on the BBC website on Friday. "This includes an attempt to put pressure on those who work for BBC Persian outside Iran, by targeting family members who still live inside the country."

The report by Iran's Mehr news agency said Monday that "a number of deceived people, who were tasked with collecting news and information in Iran for the BBC, have been arrested by security forces. The source said these people received huge amount of money from the company."

It did not name the source.

CNN's Claudia Rebaza contributed to this report.

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