Iranian agents blackmailed BBC reporter with ‘naked photo’ threats

Negin Shiraghaei. (Twitter photo)
Updated 19 November 2017

Iranian agents blackmailed BBC reporter with ‘naked photo’ threats

LONDON: Iranian agents blackmailed a BBC Persian journalist by threatening to publish revealing photos of her as part of a wider campaign against the British media outlet, staff at the broadcaster told Arab News.
New details emerged on Saturday about alleged harassment of BBC Persian reporters’ family members and loved ones at the hands of the Iranian security services.
Negin Shiraghaei, a BBC Persian anchor, told The Times that her elderly father, who has stage-four cancer, had been interrogated by the security services. Rana Rahimpour, a presenter, also said that her parents were brought in for questioning on multiple occasions by Iranian authorities.
Another BBC Persian presenter told Arab News she had been blackmailed by Iranian agents, who threatened to spread rumors about her sex life and compromising pictures. The tawdry tactics had also been used against men, the reporter said, declining to be named due to security concerns. A fake news story about the sexual misconduct of another BBC Persian presenter had been widely disseminated by Iranian agents, she added.
“If they want to make women silenced, they just threaten, (saying) ‘OK, we are publishing stories about your sex life’,” the reporter said.
The reporter told Arab News that Iranian agents had raided her family’s home in Tehran, confiscating a number of cameras and laptops, and arresting a family member.
That’s when the menacing Facebook messages started.
“I got many threatening messages on Facebook and social media from different people saying that (a family member) was arrested and ‘we found many photos of you — if you don’t cooperate with the Iranian intelligence we are going to (publish them),” she told Arab News.
The journalist said she did not know what, if any, intimate photos the Iranian intelligence services have of her, but decried the ploy as “very dirty.”
The smear campaign was intended as leverage to pressure her into resigning from her job as a reporter with BBC Persian, she said. Failing that, she said, the intelligence services wanted her to provide them information about the British news organization.
Blackmail is just part of a string of tactics the Iranian authorities have allegedly used to pressure BBC Persian employees. Family members and friends of BBC Persian staffers, including the elderly and ill, have been arrested and interrogated, according to reports.
According to an internal survey of 96 BBC Persian employees, 44 had been accused of sexual impropriety while the vast majority, 86, reported being harassed. Almost half said their parents had been questioned by authorities in Iran.
Iran has ratcheted up its campaign against BBC Persian reporters and their families since the contested 2009 presidential election.
While BBC Persian is technically banned in Iran, the broadcasts draw listeners eager to hear news updates that have not been filtered through the regime’s official channels. According to the BBC, 13 million Iranians tune into the marquee World Service broadcast despite the official injunction.
Last month, the Iranian government initiated a criminal probe into many of the journalists working for BBC Persian in London, accusing them of conspiracy against the country’s national security. Over the summer, the Iranian judiciary froze the assets of more than 150 BBC Persian staffers because of their work with the British broadcaster.
The experiences of the BBC Persian staffers and their families — who have been subjected to violence, threats or indignities by the Iranian authorities — have been decried by the BBC.
Tony Hall, director general of the BBC, has called the campaign an “unprecedented collective punishment of journalists who are simply doing their jobs.”
Officials at the Iranian Embassy in London did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Frankly Speaking: Arab News premieres first talkshow with former PM of Pakistan

Updated 28 November 2020

Frankly Speaking: Arab News premieres first talkshow with former PM of Pakistan

  • Hosted by veteran journalist Frank Kane, program will interview movers and shakers, world policymakers
  • Each episode of the program is 20 minutes, with occasional additional reporting and interviews to be included throughout

LONDON: Arab News, the region’s leading English-language Middle East newspaper, is proud to announce its latest video product: “Frankly Speaking,” a recorded show that will interview and challenge movers and shakers, world policymakers and influential deciders on topics relating to the Arab world.

Hosted by veteran, award-winning journalist and senior Arab News business columnist, Frank Kane, who has interviewed influential business leaders and key politicians from around the world including Emirati tycoon, Khalaf Al-Habtoor, president of the World Economic Forum (WEF), Borge Brende, and Anthony Scaramucci, the former communications adviser to US President Donald Trump.

Each episode of the program is 20 minutes, with occasional additional reporting and interviews to be included throughout.



“Frankly Speaking” will be available on Arab New’s YouTube channel and on the program page on the Arab News website.

Commenting on the launch, Arab News Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas said: “As the leading English language news source on Saudi Arabia and Middle East, it was only natural for Arab News to expand its video offering and we are very proud to present 'Frankly Speaking' as our first product for our followers worldwide.”

“While editorial integrity can only be proven, the combination of the credibility of both the Arab News brand and the long experience and interview style of Frank Kane will ensure that each episode provides an intellectually stimulating debate and plenty of material for further discussion,” he said.



The first episode of “Frankly Speaking” launches on Saturday at 5 p.m. Riyadh time (2 p.m. GMT) and will feature former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who will talk about his own recipe for change in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia’s reforms, the difference between Islamabad’s relationship with Iran and with Saudi Arabia, as well as his views on Israel.