Arseh Sevom — For months now, Iranian state media has been slandering BBC Persian journalists, accusing them of a number of crimes including drug trafficking, sexual impropriety, and even rape. Recently, they also began detaining the family members of the journalists for questioning in the hopes of intimidating the foreign-based journalists.
“This is unprecedented in its level of viscousness,” BBC correspondent Kasra Naji tells Arseh Sevom. “We have not seen this level of brazen and vicious attacks before.”
“It is impossible to miss the pattern of arrests and intimidation from the regime against those who challenge the dominance of its hold on information,” says Arseh Sevom board president, Bert Taken. “We saw a sharp rise in arrests before the 2009 elections as well. This was particularly the case with women’s rights activists, reporters, and bloggers. The harassment of the families of human rights defenders, journalists, and others is a new low for Iran. We know the mother of an imprisoned human rights defender was imprisoned simply for speaking with the international media. Arseh Sevom asks the Iranian government to rescind these policies and to respect its citizen’s freedom of speech as guaranteed by its own constitution.”