BBC Persian plight raised again at United Nations

ANDREW GILMOUR, United Nations assistant secretary-general, has highlighted the plight of BBC Persian journalists experiencing continued harassment and persecution by the Iranian authorities. A report presented to the UN’s Human

Rights Council in Geneva said: “Journalists of the BBC Persian service, or BBC Farsi, had been branded as ‘anti-Iranian’ and some had been followed, questioned and received threats against family members for their statements at the Human Rights Council session.”

The BBC made a formal complaint

to the UN’s Human Rights Council in February because staff from the BBC Persian Service, who had previously addressed UN representatives in Geneva, had suffered reprisals against themselves and their families for engaging with the UN. The report recognises that BBC Persian journalists have also been attacked in various state media in Iran and accused of undermining “national security, being involved in terrorism, and being puppets of the [UK] government”. In October last year during a session of the

UN’s General Assembly, the government of Iran accused BBC Persian of “pumping blind hate, fabricating false news and provoking disruption and destruction”. In January, the General Assembly called upon the Islamic Republic of Iran to end reprisals against individuals who have cooperated with the UN. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “We welcome the UN’s commitment to tackling this unacceptable behaviour, and we hope they take

particularly seriously the complaint we have made as it is vital that anyone

who turns to the UN for help should be protected from reprisals for speaking out at an international level.” Fran Unsworth, director of BBC News, said:

“These reprisals provide a disturbing illustration of the relentless distress faced by our BBC Persian staff. When they raise legitimate complaints about harassment at the UN, they are intimidated as a result. It is fundamental that appeals to the UN should be expressed without fear and these reprisals are of deep concern for all of us who defend freedom of expression.”

MARZIEH AMIRI, an economics reporter working for Iran’s Shargh daily newspaper, was sentenced by the country’s Revolutionary Court to 148 lashes and 10 and a half years in jail in August on

charges of “assembly and collusion against the state” and “propaganda against the state” and “disrupting of public order”. She was arrested while attending the World Labour Day protest outside the

Iranian parliament building in Tehran on May 1 to report for the newspaper. She can appeal against her sentence. If it is upheld, she will serve a minimum of six years. Amiri’s sentencing follows the jailing of Masoud

REGIONAL PUBLISHER Archant is to receive millions of pounds in funding from Google to search for a way to make local news pay online. The money will be given through a three-year partnership

called Project Neon. Under the initiative, three news websites will be set up in communities which Archant has identified as being under-served by local news. Google will provide technological

it is vital that anyone who turns to the UN for help should be protected from reprisals for speaking out at an international level

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary


HUMPHRYS SAYS BBC HAS LIBERAL BIAS John Humphrys accused the BBC of having an institutional liberal bias. His comments in an interview with the Daily Mail came just days he left Radio 4’s Today programme in September. The 76-year-old spent 32 years presenting the flagship Radio 4 show. In his last programme, he interviewed former prime ministers David Cameron and Tony Blair.

LIZ BATES JOINS CHANNEL 4 NEWS Channel 4 News has appointed regional newspaper journalist Liz Bates as political correspondent, replacing Michael Crick, who left earlier this year. Bates joins from the Yorkshire Post, where she was Westminster correspondent. She previously worked for Politics Home and as a communications officer for Labour MP John Healey.

Iranian reporter sentenced to 10 years

Kazemi, who is serving four and a half years in prison for “spreading misinformation” and “insulting the supreme leader and other Iranian officials”. His appeal against the sentence was denied.

Google funds Archant sites to ‘rethink local news’

help but no input into editorial decisions and the websites will be owned by Archant. The publisher said that the project would try to “rethink local

news from every perspective” and examined business models, website designs, layout and storytelling methods. It is intended that the websites will be

profitable by the end of the three-year partnership. The project’s successes and failures will be shared within the industry.

HERALD’S HUTCHEON GOES TO THE RECORD The Daily Record has appointed the Herald on Sunday’s Paul Hutcheon as its new political editor. Hutcheon joined what was then the Sunday Herald as Scottish political editor in 2004. He then became politics and investigations editor. Hutcheon replaces David Clegg, who becomes editor of The Courier.

GUARDIAN’S DEPUTY EDITOR TO LEAVE The Guardian’s deputy editor Paul Johnson is retiring after 40 years at the newspaper. Johnson’s previous roles at the Guardian include Irish correspondent, news editor and assistant editor. He was appointed deputy editor in 1995 under the previous editor Alan Rusbridger.

POLITICO EUROPE APPOINTS NEW CHIEF Stephen Brown is the new editor-in-chief of politics and policy news title Politico Europe. The European arm of Politico was set up in 2015 as a joint venture with German publisher Axel Springer. Politico opened in the US in 2007.

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