People working for BBC Farsi service held in Iran

Tehran, Feb 7: A number of local people “secretly” working for the BBC Farsi-language service have been arrested in Iran, the Mehr news agency reported.

A source told Mehr that a number of “deceived” locals who were tasked with collecting news and information in Iran for the BBC have been arrested by security forces.

The people received “huge amount of money” from the BBC, the source said. The exact number of people arrested was, however, not mentioned.

According to Xinhua, in November 2011, Mehr said that Iranian intelligence forces arrested Hassan Fathi, a local who was working as a reporter with the BBC for a long time, on charges of spreading lies about the country and making attempts to manipulate the Iranian public opinion.

In September, Iran said six Iranian nationals, including a woman, were arrested for working for the BBC’s Farsi-language service and distributing photos, videos and information to reflect a negative image of Iran.

Xinhua said the BBC provides services from London in Farsi language eight hours a day for seven days a week, in peak viewing time of Iran and Afghanistan.

Iran’s intelligence ministry earlier warned Iranians not to work with the BBC, saying that those who were thinking of cooperation with the BBC should be careful not to fall into the trap of the “anti-Iranian institution”.