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Iran lashes out at West, media over unrest

Iran accused Britain and the United States on Sunday of meddling in its affairs, amid an international outcry over its crackdown on protests over the results of last week's presidential election.

world Updated: Jun 21, 2009 19:32 IST

Iran accused Britain and the United States on Sunday of meddling in its affairs, amid an international outcry over its crackdown on protests over the results of last week's presidential election.

It hammered home its message by ordering the expulsion of BBC correspondent Jon Leyne just two days after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Britain of adopting an "evil" position in the face of a week of deadly protests.

"By making hasty comments, you will not have a place in the circle of the Iranian nation's friends," the victorious incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned London and Washington in a statement on his website.

"Therefore, I recommend you to correct your interfering positions," added Ahmadinejad, whose election to a second four-year term in the June 12 poll is being challenged by the opposition.

Foreign Minister Manouchechr Mottaki also complained to foreign diplomats about Western interference, claiming that Britain had worked to sabotage the election.

"Great Britain has plotted against the presidential election for more than two years," Mottaki said, according to state-run Press TV.

"We witnessed an influx of people (from Britain) before the election. Elements linked to the British secret service were flying in in droves."

Iran's supreme leader set the tone for the anti-Western diatribes on Friday as he made his first public appearance since Ahmadinejad's disputed election win unleashed the wave of protests.

"Today top diplomats of several Western countries who talked to us previously within diplomatic formalities are showing their real face and most of all, the evil British government," Khamenei said.

The Iranian authorities have restricted foreign media coverage of street protests in Tehran, where state media have said at least 17 people have been killed since the disturbances first broke out.

On Sunday, the Iranian authorities ordered the expulsion within 24 hours of the BBC correspondent.

Leyne stood accused of "supporting the rioters," the Fars news agency reported.

The Mehr news agency said Leyne was summoned by the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance which had expressed particular concern about the election coverage of the BBC's Persian service which it described as an "obvious example of interference in the domestic affairs of the Islamic republic".

It also warned of more stern action against the British media.

"If various British radio and television networks continue to interfere in our country's domestic affairs by broadcasting fake and incorrect reports of Iran or ignoring international journalism ethics, there will be more stern action taken," Mehr quoted the ministry as saying.

Britain, which has spearheaded criticism of Iran's handling of the election, has dismissed Tehran's criticism.

"I reject categorically the idea that the protesters in Iran are manipulated or motivated by foreign countries," Foreign Secretary David Miliband said.

Britain, and other countries, will not be dragged into a "dispute among Iranians about the election results," he said.

"The UK is categorical that it is for the Iranian people to choose their government, and for the Iranian authorities to ensure the fairness of the result and the protection of their own people," he said.

On Saturday US President Barack Obama directly addressed Iranian leaders, saying: "The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching.

"The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights," he added.