RSF slams the Iranian government’s attempt to silence foreign media
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns attempts by the Iranian government to silence foreign media after issuing sanctions to foreign media outlets, in countries such as France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The sanctions highlight another way in which the regime continues to crackdown on free and independent media, RSF says.
"Iranian authorities have now broadened the extent of their fights with independent media, and every day we see fresh restrictions imposed on the media and journalists, and the breadth of this crackdown is growing outside its borders." RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. "Violation of the rights of independent media and journalists will have consequences in many aspects of their relationships with the rest of the world. RSF unites its voice with the independent media in and outside Iran.
Following widespread protests and unrest in Iran, the Iranian government has furthered its crackdown on critical voices by issuing sanctions to international media outlets. Announced on 26 October, the Persian versions of German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and Radio France Internationale (RFI) have been subjected to visa bans and the confiscation of their property and assets in the Islamic Republic of Iran. For now, these sanctions on the two media outlets in Iran have little impact, as their respective local offices have been closed since 2009.
The Editors-in-Chief of the BILD newspaper in Germany, Johannes Boie and Alexandra Würzbach, have also been personally named in the sanctions list. The news followed previously announced sanctions to media outlets based in the United Kingdom, including BBC Persian, Iran International and their parent company Volant Media, and media conglomerates, Global Media and DMA Media.
Journalists working for these outlets, who will have already been unlikely to travel to Iran, will also now legally be unable to travel and may be impacted if they have personal assets still in Iran. RSF expresses concern that this targeted attack will also impact the families of journalists who remain in Iran and will now be subjected to further risk.
The sanctions represent an escalated crackdown of journalists speaking out against the Iranian government. One month into the protests and unrest in Iran, RSF reported that Iran was now the third largest jailer of journalists in the world, with 43 journalists imprisoned in Iran. China, with 102 journalists and Myanmar, with 67 journalists, are the second and largest jailers of journalists.
Iran International TV, a UK-based media outlet who has been already subjected to sanctions, has documented a surging number of threats by senior officials since the start of the uprising. On October 10, the Major General of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hossein Salami, said: “We warn those who manage these systems of spreading news and spreading lies for chaos inside our country to stop these behaviours. You've tried us before, watch out because we're coming for you.”
Sanctioning medias already blocked
The sanctions imposed on RFI and Deutsche Welle are in addition to the blocking of their websites that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been imposing on these two international media for many years.
The official website of RFI has already been blocked several times by authoritarian regimes such as Russia or Mali and Iran. RSF has unblocked it with its Collateral Freedom operation, and its Farsi edition is accessible here.
German public television Deutsche Welle is also a favourite target of the enemies of press freedom worldwide. Its Farsi edition is already accessible via the mirror site created by RSF this year within a partnership between the German media and the press freedom organisation. Deutsche Welle is well-versed in circumventing Internet censorship to bring free and independent information to people living under authoritarian regimes. That is why Deutsche Welle has been working with censorship circumvention software Psiphon and also provides a so-called onion service, allowing users to anonymously visit their website via the Tor browser. An overview of how Deutsche Welle recommends users bypass censorship is available here.
Iran has long held one of the world’s worst press freedom rankings, at 178th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index.