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UN rights chief condemns harassment of journalists in Iran

Tehran rejects rapporteur's report, says it is 'illegitimate' and 'politically motivated'
Newspaper in Tehran featuring picture of US President Donald Trump (Reuters)

A UN special rapporteur said on Thursday there had been little change in the human rights situation in Iran over the past year, voicing outrage over the harassment of journalists and adding that progress on women's rights was extremely slow.

A day after submitting her report to the world body, Asma Jahangir, the UN special rapporteur on the Iran rights situation, told reporters that torture was widespread in Iran and that some people are imprisoned for seeking justice.

Jahangir said she had not attempted to assess the impact of sanctions on human rights in Iran in her report because she had not been allowed to visit the country, which does not recognise her mandate.

Iran rejected Jahangir's report as biased.

"The report is politically motivated, illegitimate, rancorous and disreputable," Iranian state TV channel IRINN quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying on Thursday.

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Iran says Western countries use the issue of human rights as a political tool to apply pressure on it.

On Wednesday, the BBC filed an urgent complaint to the UN after Iran began a criminal investigation into 152 BBC Persian staff and contributors, accusing them of "conspiracy against national security" in Iran and abroad.

Iran has frozen the assets of BBC Persian staff in Iran.

All individuals on the list work, or have worked, for BBC Persian, part of the BBC World Service. A Reuters correspondent who was working for the BBC until 2015 was also on the list.

"This is the latest in a sustained campaign of harassment and persecution which is designed to pressure journalists against continuing their work for the BBC," Britain's publicly funded broadcaster said in a statement.

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