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    Nine congressmen seek probe of pro-regime VOA

    Voice_of_America_Logo.svg_1A handful of congressmen have asked the State Department to investigate the Voice of America’s (VOA) Persian language news service for what they say is the station’s pro-regime bias.

    Nine congressmen from both parties sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry last Wednesday proposing the probe.

    “We request that you look into this matter and investigate any possible mismanagement and slanted coverage.”

    The signers include Reps. Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, Steve Stockman, Republican of Texas, Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, Howard Coble, Republican of North Carolina, and several others.

    The congressmen said they were acting at the request of some of their Iranian-American constituents.

    “We have received complaints from our Iranian-American constituents that VOA-PNN [Persian News Network] programs have neglected to adequately cover the abysmal situation of human rights violations in Iran, particularly the alarming and dramatic rise in executions,” they wrote in the joint letter.

    Among examples of bias cited by critics is the case of Majid Mohammadi, an Iranian-American academic and critic of the Islamic Republic, who said he was placed on the station’s “blacklist” for comparing the Islamic Republic to the Islamic State last month.

    “After the program, I was called and one of the staff members of PNN (Mr. Homan Bakhtiar) told me that Mr. Mohammad Manzarpour, the editor, has put me in the black list and PNN will no longer contact me for providing my expertise on Middle East issues in VOA Persian programs,” Mohammadi wrote in a letter to the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which oversees all US government radio and television stations.

    Manzarpour has been singled out for particular criticism by several of the station’s critics.

    Manzarpour, they allege, has ties to the Iranian regime and uses his platform at PNN to censor information he finds objectionable.

    Manzarpour, his critics say, previously worked for the Atieh Bahar Consulting company, which helps foreign companies invest in Iran.

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