Person arrested in Isfahan province accused of sharing information with BBC and Iran International, says state media
An unnamed British-Iranian citizen was arrested in Iran’s Isfahan province on Wednesday for allegedly sharing information with foreign-based news channels, Iranian state media reported.
“The Revolutionary Guards’ Intelligence Organisation arrested a British-Iranian citizen who communicated with the BBC and Iran International,” the Islamic Republic of Iran’s News Network said, before adding the person was born in Britain.
Tehran accuses foreign-based Persian-language channels of supporting a nationwide protest movement that has been ongoing for more than two months, sparked by the death of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini in police custody. Tehran has also arrested as many as seven French citizens, including two on 12 November.
The Iranian regime has become increasingly obsessed with the role of London-based satellite channels broadcasting into Iran, claiming they are the work of foreign agents and part of a wider conspiracy to spread lies and bring the government to its knees. BBC Persian, Iran International and Monoto, as well as a group of anonymous channels on Telegram, have reported on the protests in Farsi.
The regime has said any communication with a foreign-based news channel could be regarded as a crime. More than 65 Iran-based journalists have been arrested, while one newspaper was closed for publishing an account of the death of a 10-year-old that conflicted with the official account.
Two Iran International journalists have been warned by the Metropolitan police to take precautions since the London police believe there is a credible threat to their lives.
The arrest of the unnamed British-Iranian dual national underlines the risks protesters and citizen journalists are taking daily using their cameras in the streets or trying to upload videos. With few independent journalists allowed into the country, and internal media heavily censored, Iranians increasingly rely on foreign channels for information about the protests. The rallies are currently strongest in Iranian Kurdistan, but there appears to be more industrial strikes nationwide.
The UN Human Rights Council on Thursday will meet at the request of Germany and Iceland to vote on whether to establish a fact-finding mission to Iran over the protests and human rights abuses.
On the eve of the meeting, Narges Mohammadi, arguably Iran’s most famous women’s rights activist and political prisoner, wrote a letter addressed to the UN, emphasising the desire of the Iranian nation to “have democracy and a normal relationship with the world”, demanding “documentation of the killings and repressions of the Islamic Republic regime”.
The George and Amal Clooney Foundation also issued a statement saying they supported an independent investigation into human rights abuses in the country.
“The girls who are taking to the streets in Iran have inspired the world with their courage,” said Amal Clooney, adding: “States should now establish an independent international investigative body to gather evidence of the abuses they have suffered, so that justice will one day be possible.”
Redress, an NGO that pursues legal claims on behalf of survivors of torture, in conjunction with Richard Ratcliffe, the husband of former dual national prisoner Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, have submitted a report to the UN detailing the experiences of 26 victims of Iran’s hostage diplomacy. The report linked the practice of Iran’s hostage-taking and the impunity with which Iran has suppressed protests these past two months.
Iranian human rights groups say more than 400 people, including dozens of children, have been killed during 10 weeks of protests in different regions of Iran.
Reuters contributed to this report