The BBC’s Persian television service was recently subjected to a "sophisticated cyber-attack", the director-general Mark Thompson has revealed.
In a partially released statement, due to be delivered in a speech to the Royal Television Society later today, Thompson said that there have been recent attempts to block BBC television services going into Iran, as well as a campaign to swamp the BBC’s London phone lines with automated calls. He made further reference to a "sophisticated cyber-attack", although no further details were given.
Thompson stopped short of explicitly blaming Iranian sources for the cyber attacks, but did say that Iranian interference in BBC services was nothing new.
"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 said.
BBC’s Persia provides TV, radio and online services in Farsi. In February, Thompson accused Iranian authorities of arresting and threatening the families of BBC journalists to force them to quit the Persian news service.
Organisations such as the Dutch government and the CIA have previously made cyber-attack accusations against Iran. In September last year, the Dutch cabinet began an investigation into Iran’s potential involvement in the Diginotar certificate hack after Google noticed that most internet users effected by the stolen certificates were baced in Iran.
In December images of a captured US drone aircraft emerged on Iranian television. The craft appeared to be in good condition, prompting speculation that Iranian engineers had been able to take remote control of a drone which had been running intelligence operations for the CIA.
Iran itself says is it is frequently the target of cyber attack. It alleges, for example, that claims the StuxNet worm that turned up on its nuclear control systems was the work of American and Israeli intelligence agencies.