Now BBC World Service Director Francesca Unsworth has slammed what she said was an apparent “targeted attack on BBC Persian staff, former staff and some contributors.”
And the corporation has called on the Iranian authorities to reverse the order that freezes the assets of staff in the country, preventing them from buying or selling property, cars and other goods.
BBC Persian, which is banned in Iran, has previously reported that its staff and family members have been routinely harassed and intimidated by the authorities.
The service says it has obtained a court order listing the names of 152 current and former staff, as well as contributors whose non-liquid assets have been frozen by the Shahid Moghadas Courthouse, based in Tehran’s Evin prison.
The BBC says it received no notification of the order, but instead discovered the asset freeze when the relative of an employee tried selling property on their behalf.
“We deplore what appears to be a targeted attack on BBC Persian staff, former staff, and some contributors… It is appalling that anyone should suffer legal or financial consequences because of their association with the BBC,” Unsworth was quoted as saying in a statement.
Meanwhile management at BBC Persian said the order was “another attempt by Iran’s judiciary to silence impartial journalists.”
And acting head of BBC Persian, Amir Azimi, vowed to continue providing a service with staff continuing in their work.