In a blog post, Thompson said that last week the sister of a BBC Persian staff member was detained and held in solitary confinement in Iran.She has since been released."In recent months a number of relatives of members of BBC Persian staff have been detained for short periods of time by the Iranian authorities and urged to get their relatives in London to either stop working for the BBC, or to 'co-operate' with Iranian intelligence officials," said Thompson."In other instances, passports of family members have been confiscated, preventing them from leaving Iran.“In recent months,” said the BBC, “a number of relatives of BBC Persian staff had been detained for short periods of time by the Iranian authorities and urged to get their relatives in London to either stop working for the BBC, or to ‘co-operate’ with Iranian intelligence officials.”Details about the ‘sophisticated cyber-attack’ are not known, nor to what extent – if any – it was successful.There is no indication of whether the attack originated from Iranian sympathizers or from the Iranian Passive Defense Organization under brigadier general Gholamreza Jalali.Thompson said in a blog post that last week the sister of a BBC Persian staff member was detained and held in solitary confinement in a Tehran prison. He said it was one of several occasions on which employees' relatives have been detained and "urged to get their relatives in London to either stop working for the BBC, or to 'cooperate' with Iranian intelligence officials." Thompson said staff members' email and Facebook accounts had been hacked, and they had faced false accusations of sexual assault, drug trafficking and financial crimes in official Iranian media outlets.Diplomatic relations between Britain and Iran have deteriorated as tensions mount over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.It said they facilitated training and hiring of some Iranian journalists and arranged trips abroad for them.
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There have also been cases of intimidation, questioning and detention involving relatives of BBC staff."Sarah Leah Whitson, the Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said that detaining BBC reporters was part of "a wider campaign to harass Iranian journalists by putting pressure on them and their families".
She added: "It suggests that authorities detained the relative to silence the reporter and the BBC.
The BBC has accused Iran of intimidating staff at its BBC Persian TV service through a campaign involving slander, arrests and the hacking of Facebook accounts.
BBC director general Mark Thompson said today that the Tehran authorities were waging a programme of "bullying and harassment" against BBC Persian.