Ofcom investigates Iran's Press TV over 'interview'

A journalist has accused the Iranian channel Press TV of colluding in his wrongful imprisonment after he was detained for filming protests during last year’s presidential elections in Iran.

Freelance documentary maker Maziar Bahari has taken his case against Press TV – which launched in Britain three years ago and broadcasts to nearly ten million UK subscribers - to Ofcom, the broadcasting standards watchdog.

Mr Bahari, who now lives in Britain, accuses the channel of breaching Ofcom rules on privacy and fairness for recording his forced confession inside a Tehran prison.

Press TV, an English language channel funded by the Tehran government, describes itself as providing a 'voice for the voiceless.'



With glossy presenters, and colourful sets, it is the model of an international 24 hour news channel. Broadcasting live from London, and Tehran, it features an array of local and international talent, including Yvonne Ridley, George Galloway and Lauren Booth.

When it launched in Britain, it promised to be independent, delivering different views and unbiased reports.

But in an interview with Channel 4 News, to be broadcast tonight, Mr Bahari explains that Press TV betrayed those promises, by sending a journalist to cover his forced confession in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

'I was somewhat surprised because I thought Press TV would at least pretend to have some credibility and wouldn't come and interview a prisoner in an interrogation room when I was under duress.'

Mr Bahari says he was tortured and then forced to make his confession on television, under threat of execution. He describes how he sat inside a room in the prison, before three cameras, and responded to questions suggested by a government interrogator, who stood behind a red curtain. He says he kept his blindfold on his knee, in full view, so it should have been clear that he was under duress.

Press TV then broadcast the confession, as though it was a legitimate interview, and Mr Bahari a willing guest; the presenter even suggested Mr Bahari might have participated in the protests.

The Iranian-Canadian journalist captured defining moments of the demonstrations - later broadcast on Channel 4 News, with whom he has worked for many years.

But he paid a high price - spending 118 days in detention, and was only released after a vigorous international campaign. Last month, he was convicted in absentia on five charges, including conspiring against the state, and insulting the Supreme Leader. He was sentenced to 13 and-a-half years in prison, and 74 lashes.

A former current affairs presenter at Press TV, Shahab Mossavat, described the actions of the channel as appalling and tragic.

He left the network last year after his show was axed, but says there is increasing political pressure on the channel from Tehran, despite its aspirational beginnings.

'Iran wanted to engage, and set its own agenda for engagement, so in those ways, I think Press TV was apposite,” he told Channel 4 News.

“As time went on, that changed, and having played the game, the people at Press TV, and much higher than Press TV, realised they weren't winning. Then the tone changed and became much more shrill and much less palatable.”

Press TV says it determines its own editorial policy and maintains complete independence from the government - suggesting Shahab Mossavat resigned after his employers couldn't meet his demands for a pay rise.

The broadcaster says it won't comment on Mr Bahari's allegations while Ofcom makes its deliberations.

The case is being closely watched by human rights activists. Index on Censorship campaigner, Jo Glanville says any respectable journalist should refuse to work for the channel. “The way they behaved by going into the prison in that way and essentially colluding with the torture and illegal detention of a journalist that should finish their reputation once and for all in this country.”



For the full report, see Channel 4 News tonight at 7pm

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA powerful collection of reportage on Egypt’s cycle of awakening and relapse
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan stars as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey movie
filmFirst look at Jamie Dornan in Fifty Shades of Grey trailor
News
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
music
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Charge Accountant

£20,000 - £22,000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Property Management Grou...

Head of Sales, London

£70 - 95K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Head of Sales, Milton Keynes

£70 - 90K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Head of Sales, Bristol

£70 - 90K OTE £125K. Plus Car,Private Healthcare and Pension: Charter Selectio...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game