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BBC confirms correspondent ordered to leave Iran

world Updated: Jun 21, 2009 19:08 IST

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The BBC confirmed on Sunday that its correspondent in Iran has been asked to leave the country by the Iranian authorities amid accusations he was helping to support post-election violence.

"With regret, Jon Leyne, the BBC's permananent correspondent in Tehran, has been asked to leave by the Iranian authorities. The BBC office remains open," a brief statement from the broadcaster said.

Iran's Fars news agency said Leyne had been ordered to leave the country within 24 hours and that he had been accused of "supporting the rioters".

Foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi told Fars that networks such as the BBC and Voice of America were "the mouthpieces of their countries' diplomacy."

He said that they are not "private networks but their budget is approved in the US Congress and the British parliament.

"These networks follow two strategies: to create and stoke ethnic differences and the disintegration of Iran.... These networks are the control-room of the riots."

Leyne's order to leave comes after Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki accused British agents of sabotaging the presidential election by manipulating the post-election demonstrations.

The allegations were rejected by British Foreign Secretary David Miliband as "without foundation".

Leyne is a veteran BBC correspondent who has covered the United Nations, the US State Department and Jordan and has also reported extensively from Iraq.