The BBC said on Wednesday it had filed an urgent complaint to the United Nations after Iran began a criminal investigation into 152 BBC Persian staff and contributors, accusing them of “conspiracy against national security” in Iran and abroad.
Iran has frozen the assets of BBC Persian staff, meaning they cannot inherit family assets and preventing them and their families from selling assets, such as property or cars, in Iran.
In mid-August, the BBC has called on the Iranian authorities to reverse the new order that appears to effectively freeze the assets of its staff in Iran.
All individuals on the list work, or have worked, for BBC Persian, part of the BBC World Service, Reuters reported.
Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC, said in the statement: “This is not just a campaign against BBC Persian staff but against fundamental human rights, and the BBC calls on the government of Iran to end this legal action immediately.”
Iran accused the BBC of inciting unrest after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009. It added that the journalists were broadcasting against the national interests of Tehran.
The following year it banned Iranians from contact with dozens of foreign organisations, including the BBC, which it said were seeking to topple the Iranian regime.
The management of BBC Persian described the court order as another attempt by Iran's judiciary to silence impartial journalists.
The order was issued in July by a prosecutor’s office based in Evin Prison in Tehran and ratified by Iran’s deputy prosecutor-general in August before being announced to all registration offices in the country.