Controversies and scandals in Voice of America's Persian News Network

Oct 26, 2011
Rudi Bakhtiar

In recent years, the Persian Service of Voice of America (VOA), named Persian News Network (PNN), is the subject of not only the usual attacks by the Iran's state-run media, but also political, sexual and management scandals. For example, there are news of yet another round of staff expulsions, this time possibly affecting Ahmad Batebi, Koroush Sehati, Jamshid Chalangi and Rudi Bakhtiar (former CNN anchor and human rights activist).

There have been sexual scandals. Last year, the law firm of Larry Klayman announced a $150 million lawsuit against VOA's Persian News Network (PNN) for covering up sexual harassment at the network by retaliating against those who complained about it, such as Ms. Elham Sataki (pictured below) the Network's former anchor and currently a news anchor at the Los-Angeles based Andisheh Persian TV.

There have been political scandals. In 2009, it was reported that PNN fired a translator contractor Melodi Navab-Safavi, for working on a music video protesting the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Melodi is a member of the popular Persian Swedish band Abjeez (profile and link here on making songs regarding, among other things, women's rights and other social problems in Iran. Melodi's husband, Saman Arbabi, also a PNN employee, is now the Producer of a popular political news satire show named Parazit, and is said, in some Persian gossip columns to have separated from Melodi after he entered a romantic and business relationship with a German-Iranian girl named Uscha (Azadeh).


Reformists and opponents of Iranian government attribute much of the news and gossip about PNN to Iranian government. Media observers and critics, however, are troubled by PNN's continued changes in management and staff, and lack of transparency as it relates to gossips and legal matters. It is too early to judge if PNN's new Director, Ramin Asgard, an influential former U.S. Diplomat in Dubai, will bring about the needed reform and change to PNN. One thing for sure is that the Network's Parazit show, hosted by Kambiz Hosseini, poking fun at Iran's government and leadership, is becoming one of Iran's most popular political satire shows. That is something the Iranian government does not like.

Blog by ShariatiParast for Iranian News Hub


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