LONDON – Six independent filmmakers have been detained in Iran, the BBC said Monday, denying an Iranian media report that the group were the broadcasters' staffers.
The BBC said in a statement that the group consisted of "independent documentary filmmakers." It added that while the BBC's Farsi-language service had bought the rights to their films, it had not commissioned their work.
The filmmakers "are not BBC staffers," the broadcaster said in a statement.
Earlier Monday, Iranian state television reported that authorities had arrested five people for working for the BBC Persian service, alleging that the group was providing the London-based broadcaster with what it described as negative news reports on Iran.
The report did not identify the detained by their full names.
Iranian officials are strongly opposed to the channel, which they accuse, along with the British government, of fomenting the mass protests that broke out after Iran's disputed 2009 presidential election.
The BBC denies the charge, and says its satellite broadcasts are routinely jammed.
Senior BBC official Liliane Landor said the broadcaster considered the detentions to be "part of ongoing efforts by the Iranian government to put pressure on the BBC for the impartial and balanced coverage of its Persian-language TV of events in Iran and the wider region."
Iran has arrested a slew of journalists and bloggers in recent years.