WASHINGTON, (AFP) — The United States on Friday slammed Tehran’s “hypocrisy” in blocking international media, after the BBC said its Persian television service coverage of the protests in Egypt was being jammed in Iran.
“The recent arrests and effort to block international media outlets underscores the hypocrisy of the Iranian leadership,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said.
“For all of its empty talk about Egypt, the government of Iran should allow the Iranian people the same universal right to peacefully assemble, demonstrate and communicate in Tehran that the people are exercising in Cairo.”
BBC Persian, which is based in London, has been working with the BBC’s Arabic TV service to broadcast rolling news from Egypt, and the broadcaster believes it is this coverage which has prompted the jamming which began on Thursday.
Many Iranian viewers claimed to have been watching events unfold in Cairo and elsewhere in the region extremely closely, the corporation said, and BBC Persian has vowed to continue its broadcasts to Iran and its coverage of the turmoil in Egypt.
“Governments must respect the rights of their people and be responsive to their aspirations,” Vietor said.
Iranian authorities ruthlessly suppressed mass protests in their own nation after a disputed June 2009 election that saw President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad re-elected. Protesters claimed the vote was rigged.
Tehran, which severed diplomatic ties with Cairo in 1980, has backed the revolt in Egypt and warned Washington against “interfering” in what it says is a movement of the people.
Earlier on Friday hundreds of thousands of Iranians chanted slogans supporting the Arab uprisings — and denouncing the United States — as they marched to mark the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution which toppled the shah.
“Egyptians, Tunisians, your uprisings are just and we are with you,” the crowds chanted.
State television, which telecast the crowds live, said this year the government-organized rally would show solidarity with uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.