Iranian Newscaster Sheena Shirani Outs Alleged Workplace Sexual Harasser
On February 2nd, Shirani, who had been with the network since 2007, posted to Facebook that she was leaving her job, writing ”I can no longer be part of a cause, a system or an organization I don’t believe in. As of today, I no longer work for Press TV.” She later posted a recording of a phone call between her and the channel’s news editor, Hamid Reza Emadi. IranWire describes the call:
Throughout the exchange, which lasts a little more than 10 minutes, Mr Emadi repeatedly begs his former employee to go to his house and have sex with him. He first asks her to visit him for five minutes, then later asks for two minutes, adding a slang term in Persian that translates as “my penis is exploding.”
Emadi’s presents his line of reasoning as very simple: “I’ve always helped you. I’ve always been there for you. Whenever you wanted something, I’ve helped you. I’m not asking you to kill someone. You can help me as a friend. You can have sex with me as a friend.”
Then as the conversation goes on and Shirani continues to refuse him, Emadi becomes increasingly impatient and persistent with his requests, once again using the fact that he “defended” Shirani at work to justify why she should sexually appease him.
Throughout the conversation, Shirani continues to rebut his demands. “I come to work for peace and security. To make a living. You can’t expect me to help with this particular [sexual] need because I’ve been friendly with you. I just want to work with you and consider you as a colleague. This is sexually objectifying me.”
The conversation abruptly ends after Emadi says, “Will you perform oral sex on me?” Again Emadi uses a colloquial expression.
Shirani also posted screenshots of text messages between her and Emadi in which he refers to himself as a “pervert” and “hot boss”:
She also shared screenshots of messages he sent her asking her to “reconsider” her claims.
Emadi maintains that both the recording and the screenshots of text messages are fake, and has said he plans to involve The International Crime Police (Interpol).
It’s worth nothing that Emadi has been the subject of scandal before, notably after Iranian-Canadian journalist and Editor-in-Chief of IranWire, Maziar Bahari, identified Emadi as the man who forced him to make a false confession while Bahari was imprisoned at Evin prison in 2009. In 2013, Emadi was placed on the European Union’s human rights sanctions list for forcing confessions from political prisoners and later airing those confessions on Press TV.
On Monday, Press TV suspended two executives, although a statement published to the networks’ website in Persian did not name the executives or mention sexual harassment. The statement also mentioned that Shirani did not make a formal complaint inside Iran.
Shirani has reportedly left Iran with her son.
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