In an interview broadcast Tuesday, UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn refused to disavow his appearances on Iran’s Press TV and claimed that he had not appeared on the Tehran regime’s propaganda channel since the government cracked down on demonstrators protesting election results, presumably referring to the 2009 protests.
According to the UK parliament’s register of members’ interests, Corbyn was still appearing on Press TV as recently as July 11, 2012, The Times reported, six months after a decision by British regulators to revoke the channel’s license and issue a fine for broadcasting an interview with imprisoned Newsweek and Channel 4 journalist Maziar Bahari that was filmed under duress.
The Canadian-Iranian journalist was arrested while broadcasting from Iran on the protests following the elections. Throughout his imprisonment he was tortured and interrogated on his statements against Holocaust denial, his film on Jews trying to escape the Holocaust, and his Jewish connections.
Press TV is an English-language news network connected to the state-owned Iranian broadcasting company.
Asked four times by Channel 4 News if he regrets appearing on the channel, Corbyn, visibly angered, refused to directly answer the question and instead said that he had used the outlet as a forum to discuss human rights and justice.
Jeremy Corbyn is asked four times if he regrets working for Press TV – Iran's state funded broadcaster. pic.twitter.com/732Z2GlTtX
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) September 25, 2018
On Wednesday Bahari added his voice to the growing chorus of criticism against the opposition leader.
“Dear Jeremy Corbyn, it’s very easy to say sorry. I don’t resent you because of you did,” Bahari tweeted. “You may not have known the true nature of Press TV. A good leader must confront his past mistakes and not evade a question four times in a row.”
Corbyn has in the past defended receiving up to £20,000 ($26,285) for five appearances on the channel between 2009 and 2012 — revealed in the UK parliament’s register of members’ financial interests — saying it was “not an enormous amount.”
Footage emerged in August of Corbyn, accused by the Jewish community of tolerating anti-Semitism in his party’s ranks, telling Press TV that the BBC “has a bias towards saying that… Israel has a right to exist.”
In the 2011 interview, posted on Twitter by the British political blogger The Golem, Corbyn explains that “there’s pressure on the BBC from, probably, [then-BBC director general] Mark Thompson, who seems to me to have an agenda in this respect. There seems to be a great deal of pressure on the BBC from the Israeli government, from the Israeli embassy, and they are very assertive towards all journalists and toward the BBC itself. They challenge every single thing on reporting the whole time.”
That Israeli pressure and bias from the likes of Thompson, Corbyn goes on to say, mean the corporation leans in favor of Israel’s existence.
“I think there is a bias towards saying that Israel is a democracy in the Middle East, Israel has a right to exist, Israel has its security concerns,” he says in the 36-second clip.
While allegations of anti-Semitism have dogged Corbyn since he became Labour leader three years ago, the furor has reached fever pitch since March.
The crisis over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has caused a major schism within its ranks and led Jews to express fears over their future in the country.
Almost 40 percent of British Jews would “seriously consider emigrating” if Corbyn became prime minister, according to a recent poll conducted for The Jewish Chronicle.
On Sunday, Corbyn insisted he was not an anti-Semite, but refused to apologize for a series of incidents involving him and other party members that have drawn accusations of rampant anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment.