Pouria Zeraati: Iran International TV station faced ‘strong threats’ before stabbing

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By journalsofus.com

Image source, Iran International


Pouria Zeraati is the television host of Iran International’s Last Word program

The stabbing of a presenter at an Iranian TV news channel comes after “strong threats” were made to the London-based broadcaster, a spokesman said.

Iran International presenter Pouria Zeraati, 36, is recovering in hospital after a group attacked him outside his home in Wimbledon, south London.

Counterterrorism officials are leading the investigation, while the Iranian regime has denied any involvement.

A spokesperson for the station said the Iranian regime had threatened its journalists.

Iran International, based in London, aims to provide independent coverage of events in the country, but has been declared a terrorist organization by the Tehran regime.

Its spokesman Adam Baillie told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that the station had been under “threats, strong threats” for 18 months.

He said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been attacking journalists and their families.

“Together with our colleagues at BBC Persian, Iran International has been under threats, very strong threats, for the last 18 months since the IRGC said ‘we are coming for you’, which they have repeated constantly,” Baillie said.

The IRGC “makes contact through representatives, they leave no paper trail,” he said.

“No one is going to call from the IRGC and say ‘hey, it’s us,’ but families have been interrogated and threatened,” Baillie said.

He added: “The scale of that has increased dramatically in recent months and the scale and type of interrogation is more aggressive. ‘Tell your relatives to stop working for this channel’ and so on.”

The incident was “tremendously scary,” he said, but Zeraati was “very well” and recovering.

Mr Baillie was asked what he thought was behind the attack.

“We can’t say,” he said. “The fact that counterterrorism is leading the investigation probably speaks for itself.”

The Metropolitan Police said the motive for Friday’s attack was still unclear, but the occupation of Zeraati, along with recent threats against Iranian journalists based in the UK, meant the investigation was being led by specialist counter-terrorism officers.

Iran International presenter and former BBC World Service journalist Sima Sabet reported on X, formerly Twitter, that police had urged her to leave her home following the attack on Mr Zeraati.

She wrote that the Revolutionary Guards had tried to assassinate her and a colleague last year.

While awaiting the police investigation, he added: “This attack is an extremely worrying act for all journalists and opponents of the Islamic Republic in Britain and other Western countries.”

He praised the police response but said the UK government “has not taken sufficient, meaningful, decisive and effective policy action”.

He added: “London is our home. Britain must be a safe place for journalists of all media.”

In a separate case in December last year, Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev, an Austrian citizen born in Chechnya, was jailed for three and a half years for spying on Iran International ahead of a “planned attack” on British soil.

According to the Metropolitan Police, since the beginning of 2022, 15 plots to kidnap or kill people based in the United Kingdom perceived as enemies of the Iranian regime have been foiled.

Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Met’s counter-terrorism commando unit, said officers were keeping an open mind about any motivation behind the attack.

Murphy said extra patrols were being sent to the area of ​​the attack in south London and “other locations around London” as a precaution.

No arrests have been made.

Nearly 18 months ago, Iran International became one of the leading news providers during a wave of anti-government protests in Iran.

Reacting to Friday’s incident, Conservative MP Alicia Kearns, chair of the powerful Foreign Affairs Select Committee, described the stabbing as “deeply disturbing.”

“Although we do not know the circumstances of this attack, Iran continues to persecute those brave enough to speak out against the regime,” he said on X.

“However, I remain unconvinced that we and our allies have clear strategies to protect the people at home and protect our interests abroad.”

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