The BBC has filed its fourth complaint in five years to the UN against Iran after the broadcaster accused the hardline Islamic republic of sending its female journalists rape and death threats.

The Corporation has called for Tehran to ‘investigate and prosecute’ as women journalists including BBC News Persian presenter Rana Rahimpour face ‘relentless online attacks and harassment’.

These include the photoshopping of a presenter onto a pornographic image using hacked photos from her Facebook page, and reportedly sending to her 14-year-old son in London. The story was picked up by a national newspaper in Iran, the broadcaster said.

Others include the release of fake stories claiming a BBC journalist had been raped by a colleague known to Iranian audiences and a fake photo depicting her with the ‘illegitimate child’.

Writing in the i newspaper, Miss Rahimpour said she had received the threat: ‘One day, we will arrest you, we will rape your daughter in front of you, and then we will cut both your heads off.’

Officers explained to her father that she had kept it a secret from her family because she was embarrassed about being raped by a colleague.

Female journalists working for the BBC’s Persian service say that they have opted out of using social media as a journalistic tool and self-censor online for fear of harassment.

The new complaint to the UN against Iran follows several attempts by the BBC since 2017 to address the risks facing female journalists.

Since BBC News Persian TV began in 2009, journalists have been the subject of a campaign of harassment and intimidation, including prosecution and conviction in Iran for national security crimes – with some of the offences attracting the death penalty.

Similarly, their families have faced arbitrary arrest and detention, been blacklisted from jobs and had their passports confiscated, with effective travel bans imposed.

They have also faced pressure to coerce their family members to leave the BBC and return to Iran.

As a result of the threats and abuse, BBC News Persian has no staff working in Iran.

Writing in the i, BBC presenter Miss Rahimpour said: ‘We receive countless online threats of sexual violence and graphic images. They are trying to scare us, to silence us, to counter our ability to use social media for our journalism and drive us out of these online spaces.

‘It can have a negative effect on mental health, with disgusting words and images still running through your head hours after deleting them. All because we are journalists for the BBC. It might not be personal, but it feels it.

‘We call on the international community around the world to stand in solidarity with our women journalists, to hear our voices and take a stand against online violence.

‘This is why today the BBC has filed an urgent complaint to the United Nations about the gendered harassment of our women journalists.

‘The UN has raised concern about Iran’s online violence towards women, how it is closing the public space for women’s voices and resulting in gendered censorship.’

Liliane Landor, senior controller of BBC International News and director of the BBC World Service, said: ‘We absolutely deplore the violent, misogynistic and gendered harassment our women journalists have to face every day.

‘Trusted and impartial journalism is fundamental to any democracy and it is only by working together that we can ensure the safety of journalists everywhere and ensure women’s voices are included.

‘We have to be able to work unhindered, free from threats and free from abuse.’

Caoilfhionn Gallagher QC and Jennifer Robinson, counsel for the World service, added: ‘Iran has international obligations of due diligence to take action against those responsible.

‘We call on the UN to condemn the attacks and to ensure Iran meets its international obligations.’

There is a long enmity between the UK and Iran that traces back to 1953, when the CIA joined British spies in fomenting a coup against the elected government of Iranian then-prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.

In 2017, an Iranian court froze the assets of more than 150 people associated with the Persian service, which remains in place amid ongoing domestic legal challenges.

BBC News Persian staff in London have also faced credible death threats requiring police intervention and protection in the UK, they have said.

MailOnline has contacted the Iranian delegation to the UN and the Metropolitan Police for comment.

Source » dailymail