TEHRAN: Iran has arrested 11 journalists accused of cooperation with foreign-based, Persian-language media organisations, several chief editors of Iranian outlets said yesterday.
The development is a major escalation in a press crackdown that reflects Iran’s zero tolerance for those who work with dissident media or outlets deemed as unfriendly or hostile.
In recent years, Iran has denounced Voice of America and the BBC’s Persian service, describing them as arms of US and British intelligence agencies, and has warned of severe repercussions for Iranian journalists and activists caught having contacts with these outlets.
Also, Tehran has repeatedly accused the United States and Britain of seeking to provoke unrest in a bid to oust the country’s clerical rulers, and has frequently accused opposition figures and supporters of being in league with the nation’s enemies.
Many Iranians regularly tune in to the BBC and VOA’s Persian-language radio and TV channels, despite a ban on satellite dishes and government attempts to jam the airwaves.
The chief editors of the arrested journalists told The Associated Press that the 11 were taken into custody late on Sunday because of their “foreign contacts.” AP