Iran Arrests Alleged BBC Filmmakers

BBC denies it, says they are independents
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2011 5:40 PM CDT
Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivers his speech in the opening of an international Islamic conference, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011.   (AP Photo/Office of the Supreme Leader)

(Newser) – Iranian authorities have arrested six filmmakers on allegations that they work for the BBC Persian Service—which is a crime in Iran, as is working for any non-government television or radio station. “The members of this covert cell of BBC Farsi were paid tens of thousands of dollars for each of their programs,” Iran’s state-run media declared. The BBC says the men are independent filmmakers whose work they have aired, but whom they do not employ.

The BBC Persian Service is officially illegal in Iran, but it is popular anyway, the New York Times explains, with viewers tuning in through satellite dishes. The arrests come a day after it aired a documentary about Ayatollah Khamenei, but the network says none of the six arrested were involved with that program. Indeed, it says that it doesn’t employ anyone in Iran, “either formally or informally.”

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