TEHRAN - Iran has decided to expel the BBC's correspondent in Tehran over the broadcaster's coverage of this month's election, an Iranian official said on Sunday, and a semi-official news agency said Jon Leyne had 24 hours to leave.
The BBC confirmed Leyne, its permanent correspondent in Tehran, has been asked to leave, adding The BBC office remains open.
An official at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, which deals with foreign media, said Leyne had been told of the expulsion decision.
The official did not give details, but state radio cited the distortion of news regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran and particularly news pertaining to the election.
The BBC in turn has accused the authorities of interfering with its broadcasts.
The semi-official Fars News Agency, which said Leyne must leave within 24 hours, also said he was accused of dispatching fabricated news and reports and ignoring neutrality in news..
He was also accused of supporting rioters and trampling the Iranian nation's rights, Fars said.
On Friday, the BBC said it had increased the number of satellites carrying its Iranian language television service after persistent interference to the signal from within Iran.
The satellite operator has traced the interference and has confirmed it is coming from within Iran. This interference is contrary to all international agreements for satellite usage to which Iran is a signatory, the BBC said in a statement
Iranian officials have over the past week increasingly suggested that foreign media played a role in unrest that has rocked Iran since the disputed election.
Last Tuesday, Iran placed foreign media under restrictions on their ability to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.
Leyne, an experienced journalist, was in Washington on September 11, 2001, less than a mile from the Pentagon when it was attacked, according to a profile on the BBC's website.
(Reporting by Hashem Kalantari and Fredrik Dahl; editing by Matthew Jones)