Quotes from Isis leader broadcast by BBC could have violated anti-extremism legislation, says regulator
Russia has accused the BBC of promoting terrorist propaganda and threatened legal action against the British public broadcaster in a move that looks set to escalate a spiralling media dispute between London and Moscow.
Roskomnadzor, the Russian state media regulator, said the material in question concerned quotes from a speech by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, and could be in violation of Russian anti-extremism legislation. Isis is a banned organisation in Russia and media outlets are barred from publishing the statements of its leaders or supporters.
“Checks are underway into whether the BBC’s internet sites comply with Russian law. To date, material has been uncovered which transmits the ideological principles of a terrorist group,” the regulator said in a statement on Thursday.
The investigation by Roskomnadzor into the BBC World News channel and BBC websites, both of which are available in Russia, was launched in late December. It was announced just hours after the British media regulator, Ofcom, said that RT, the Kremlin-funded broadcaster, had broken impartiality rules over its reports on the Salisbury novichok poisonings. Ofcom is considering sanctions against RT that could include large fines or even the loss of its licence to broadcast in Britain.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, confirmed in December that the investigation into the BBC was a response to Ofcom’s report. The foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said Britain’s actions against RT left Russia with no option but to respond. “Russia had given warning. Repeatedly,” she wrote on Facebook last year.
The Roskomnadzor investigation was accompanied by a list of BBC reporters working in Russia, along with their photographs, which was leaked online last month. The list, which was publicised by nationalist websites, concerned 44 BBC reporters, most of them Russian citizens. The move appears to have been retaliation for an article published by the Sunday Times that named eight reporters working for the Kremlin-backed Sputnik website in Edinburgh. Russian officials said the Sunday Times article put the Sputnik reporters in danger.
The BBC’s Russian-language service has expanded significantly in recent years. It has published investigative reports into a number of sensitive topics, including the identities of the Salisbury suspects, as well as the activities of Wagner, a private military contractor reportedly run by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Kremlin-linked businessman. Many of the reporters employed by the BBC had worked at Russian newspapers or websites that had come under pressure from the Kremlin, which continues to crack down on critical reporting.
Link : Russia accuses BBC of promoting terrorist propaganda