Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati stabbed in London street

Reporter sustained several knife wounds in the attack, Iran International says

Pouria Zeraati is the host of Final Word. Photo: Iran International
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British anti-terrorism police are investigating after a journalist working for an Iranian opposition media organisation was stabbed in London on Friday.

Pouria Zeraati, the host of Iran International's Final Word, was attacked by several unidentified men as he left his home in Wimbledon, the UK-based agency reported.

Mr Zeraati sustained knife wounds in the attack and was taken to hospital, it added.

“While we are keeping an open mind, given the occupation of the victim and our publicised concerns about the threat to employees of that organisation, the investigation is being led by the Counter-Terrorism Command,” said Commander Dominic Murphy, the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism chief.

Police have appealed for witnesses to the stabbing, which happened at about 2.50pm on Friday.

“I must stress that, at this early stage of our investigation, we do not know the reason why this victim was attacked and there could be a number of explanations for this,” Commander Murphy added.

“While we continue to assess the circumstances of this incident, detectives are following a number of lines of inquiry and our priority at this time is to try and identify whoever was behind this attack and to arrest them.

“I appreciate the wider concern this incident may cause – particularly amongst others in similar lines of work, and those from Iranian communities.

“We continue to work closely with the victim’s organisation and as a precaution we’ll have additional patrols in the Wimbledon area, as well as other sites around London, to provide reassurance over the coming days to those affected and concerned.”

London Ambulance Service paramedics treated Mr Zeraati at the scene before taking him to hospital. His condition is not believed to be life-threatening.

“This cowardly attack on Pouria is deeply shocking and our thoughts are with him, his family and all of his colleagues at Iran International. We hope he makes a swift recovery,” Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary for the National Union of Journalists, said.

“It is too early to know whether this violent assault is connected to the escalating intimidation and harassment by Iran, including the plot to assassinate journalists Fardad Farahzad and Sima Sabet in 2022.

“However, this brutal stabbing will inevitably raise fears amongst the many journalists targeted at Iran International and the BBC Persian Service that they are not safe at home or going about their work.”

Farsi-language news broadcaster Iran International closed down from February to September last year after alleged threats from Tehran.

Officials at the agency told The National in January that they were aware of threats being made against journalists by operators believed to be backed by Iran.

The agency said staff “have to be lucky all the time” to avoid violent attacks.

The station’s influence – with an estimated 30 million viewers both in Iran and abroad – is believed to have led the Tehran regime to take previous action against it.

Iranian dissidents across the capital were warned earlier this year by security services of an increased risk of violence or kidnap due to rising Middle East tension.

Sources have told The National that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was using London-based criminals to carry out attacks against opponents of the regime.

The British Foreign Office said Tehran often delivers its threats via criminal gangs around the world.

Iran International is a platform known for broadcasting uncensored news from Iran, last year focusing on mass protests following the death of Mahsa Amini, who died in morality police custody after being detained for wearing her hijab “improperly”.

A year ago, the station, which is owned by private investors including a British-Saudi businessman, was informed by Scotland Yard that intelligence suggested it faced an imminent attack from kidnappers and assassins.

Iran’s intelligence minister Esmaeil Khatib has declared the broadcaster a “terrorist network” and stated the regime would take “offensive security measures … whenever and wherever we deem appropriate”.

Earlier this month, UK Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron condemned Iran's reported trial and conviction in absentia of BBC Persian journalists accused of being involved in “propaganda against the Islamic Republic”, calling it “unacceptable”.

Updated: March 31, 2024, 5:05 AM