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Iran Arrests Independent Documentary Filmmakers, Accuses Them of Working for BBC

Iran Arrests Independent Documentary Filmmakers, Accuses Them of Working for BBC

Six documentary independent filmmakers have been arrested in Iran, it was reported today. The reason? Judicial authorities accused them of secretly working for the BBC’s Farsi language service, supplying it with films that negatively depict Iran.

Per the New York Times:

The BBC denied that the six Iranian defendants — five men and a woman — were employees, describing them instead as independent filmmakers whose films had been screened in festivals and other international sites. The BBC said it had bought the broadcast rights to their work.

The BBC’s Persian-language service is banned in Iran; it’s also illegal for Iranians to work for any Persian-language, nongovernment media outlet that broadcast in Persian. However, according to the New York Times, the rooftop satellite dishes that permit transmission of banned foreign channels “are a common sight.”

According to the AP,

Iran has blocked the channel and accused it, alongside the British government, of fomenting the mass protests that broke out after Iran’s disputed presidential election in 2009. Both deny the accusation.

The arrests came Saturday night. On Friday, the BBC broadcast a documentary profiling Ayatollah Ali Khamenei during which, the BBC says, the signal was disrupted.

According to Iranian television report, “The members of this covert cell of BBC Farsi were paid tens of thousands of dollars for each of their programs and would then split the money among themselves,” Iranian television said.

However, the BBC said that “none of the six filmmakers had been involved with” the Khamenei documentary. None of the filmmakers have been identified yet by name.

The documentary appears to have been “Ruling Iran,” part of the BBC’s long-running weekly series, Our World, which tracks weekly global current affairs. It was originally broadcast in the UK July 31 on BBC News.

Here’s part 1 of the BBC documentary, “Ruling Iran”:

And part 2:

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