A woman is reflected as she passes the BBC's broadcasting house in London, July 19, 2017. (Reuters/Neil Hall)
A woman is reflected as she passes the BBC's broadcasting house in London, July 19, 2017. (Reuters/Neil Hall)

Iran bars BBC staff and contributors from selling property

Washington, D.C., August 15, 2017–Iranian authorities should immediately reverse an order banning 152 journalists and media workers with the BBC’s Persian service from buying or selling assets, cease harassing BBC journalists, and lift their ban on the station, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

The BBC reported today that it had obtained a copy of a court order from the Shahid Moghadas Courthouse in Tehran preventing the broadcaster’s staff, former staff, and some contributors from buying or selling property, cars, or other non-liquid assets. The court order did not offer an explanation.

The Iranian judiciary did not notify the BBC of the order, the broadcaster reported. Reuters reported a prosecutor based in Evin Prison issued the order in July, and the country’s deputy prosecutor-general ratified it in August. The BBC learned of the order only when a relative of a BBC Persian employee tried to sell property on their behalf, the BBC wrote today. The BBC’s Persian service is banned in Iran.

“Iranian authorities should stop punishing the BBC Persian service’s journalists for their independent reporting,” CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said. “We call on Iranian authorities to allow all BBC staff and contributors to work and live freely in the country.”

The Iranian Ministry of Justice did not immediately respond to CPJ’s emails requesting comment.

“We deplore what appears to be a targeted attack on BBC Persian staff, former staff, and some contributors,” BBC World Service Francesca Unsworth said in a statement today. “It is appalling that anyone should suffer legal or financial consequences because of their association with the BBC.”

Iranian authorities have harassed BBC staff and their families before, according to the outlet and CPJ research.