London, 7 Sep – Iran has an extensive network of clandestine spies and recent reports suggest that dozens of journalists are being threatened and blackmailed. Their aim is to make sure that there is only positive coverage of Iran in global media.
It is estimated that at least 50 international journalists (and / or their family members) have been on the
receiving-end of threats from Iranian spies in the past year alone.
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have indicated that journalists are threatened with punishment, and family members of Western reporters are often detained and used as leverage.
Many big media groups such as the BBC have been affected by this.
Iran’s will hijack computers and consider any media outlet with a Persian language service as a target.
The Iranian regime is no stranger to suppression, repression and silencing free speech, freedom of the press, freedom in dress, and so on. Dissidents in Iran are particularly targeted by authorities that are ordered to crack-down on citizens during protests and demonstrations.
Dissidents in Iran face arrest, imprisonment, torture and even execution – only for voicing their opinions.
The Iranian regime has made great efforts to ensure that its country is only seen in a positive light, in other words, so that the reality of life in Iran is not shown. For example, during the negotiations for the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran’s state-controlled reporters were employed to document the proceedings.
A report issued by Reporters Without Borders indicated that Radio France Internationale, Radio Farda, BBC, Deutsche Welle, Voice of America and Radio Zamaneh have all received threats from Iran’s judicial system or its intelligence services.
One insider has said that the threats from Iran are never signed and come in various forms. For example, a journalist could be contacted in one way or another, or a comment could be left under an article. He said that it is certain the messages come from intelligence services because it contains information only they would know.
A host at Radio Farda said that one of the threats read: “Ms. Khezr Heidari, Monday will be a horrible day for a member of your family because you did not take our last warning seriously. Thank you, my corrupt sister.”
Journalists have also been arrested on their arrival to Iran with some being handed very harsh sentences, including more than 10 years imprisonment.