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BBC target of 'sophisticated cyber-attack'

The BBC’s boss says the company suffered a ‘sophisticated cyber-attack’ after an attempt by Iran to undermine its Persian Service.

BBC director-general Mark Thompson is expected to discuss what he described as the Iranian government’s attempt to “undermine” the service during a speech to the Royal Television Society tonight. He will say opponents of the service "may be widening their tactics" by engaging in cyber-attacks.

"There was a day recently when there was a simultaneous attempt to jam two different satellite feeds of BBC Persian into Iran, to disrupt the service's London phone lines by the use of multiple automatic calls, and a sophisticated cyber-attack on the BBC.

"It is difficult, and may prove impossible, to confirm the source of these attacks, though attempted jamming of BBC services into Iran is nothing new and we regard the coincidence of these different attacks as self-evidently suspicious," Thompson will say.

The BBC has already said Iranian-based members of staff working for the London-based service have faced intimidation.

"Arrest without charge, solitary confinement, threats and inducements to persuade their relations either to leave the service or to inform on it secretly to Iranian intelligence: this is how the Iranian government is trying to undermine the BBC Persian Service," he will say.

Thompson will go on to say that the BBC "believe that there is no substitute for eye-witness journalism carried out by professionals on the ground" despite "multiple threats" to freedom of speech.

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