BBC World accepts not to share its reports from Iran on BBC Persian

Huffington Post: A deal was made with the Islamic Republic, that BBC World would not share its reports from Iran on BBC Persian. The deal has angered the staff of BBC who leaked the email and see it as complicity with a regime that imprisons, tortures, and kills journalists.

The agreement was made with the Islamic Republic in exchange for allowing a BBC correspondent into the country, and, according to emails that HuffPost obtained, it’s not the first time the British broadcaster has agreed to such terms.

The email, sent Saturday to all BBC Persian staff by a BBC Persian digital editor, said that BBC foreign correspondent Martin Patience and his team were in Iran “and due to leave on Sunday.”

The email goes on to say, “It is absolutely imperative that none of their material is run on BBC Persian TV, Radio or Online now or in the future. That includes any official BBC Persian social feed retweeting or forwarding the coverage. Please do not use the material and stories produced in Iran on any platform or in any format.”

All international media are subject to reporting restrictions in Iran. We accepted some limitations on this occasion in order to provide our audiences with rare insights from inside the country and this is signposted in our coverage. As ever, the BBC maintains full editorial control over what we broadcast. These reports - our first from inside Iran in 5 years - do not change our unwavering commitment to our BBC Persian staff and their families, who have suffered completely unacceptable harassment from the Iranian authorities since 2009. 

An article published by the BBC on Monday with its reporting in Iran has a disclaimer that reads, “While in country, recording access was controlled ― as with all foreign media the team was accompanied by a government representative at all times,” but the report does not disclose that the broadcaster agreed to limit the distribution of its reporting.

Patience, the BBC’s Middle East correspondent who was allowed into Iran last week, tweeted on Sunday, the day he left:  “Today@BBCNews begins coverage from inside Iran. Rare access at key time. Some restrictions on our movements but not on what we are saying.” 

Patience, however, did not reveal that there was a restriction on with whom he could share what was being said, in this case with his own colleagues.  

Another email reviewed by HuffPost was sent among BBC colleagues in February. In it, they said that a BBC Arabic correspondent was allowed to enter Iran to cover the anniversary of the Iranian revolution “on the condition that his pictures will be ‘no access Persian [BBC].’” 

Both emails that HuffPost obtained and reviewed have angered BBC Persian staffers. Three sources who spoke to HuffPost on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to members of the press about internal decisions at the BBC said they feel that the BBC is aiding in their persecution by the Iranian government.

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