Iranian journalists reveal extent of threats as presenter recovers from knife attack

Iran denies involvement in attack on Iran International presenter outside his south London home

Iran International journalist Pouria Zeraati was stabbed outside his home in Wimbledon, south London. Photo: Iran International
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Iranian journalists have been subjected to a series of threats, the London-based TV channel Iran International said on Saturday as one of its presenters recovers from a knife attack.

Pouria Zeraati, the host of the station’s Final Word programme, has been discharged from hospital after a knife attack outside his home in Wimbledon, south London.

Iran has denied anything to do with the attack.

The Metropolitan Police said no arrest had been made, but it was confident the suspects “do not present a risk to communities of London or the UK”.

They said they were called at 2:49pm on March 29 to an address in Wimbledon, South London after a man was attacked and sustained an injury to his leg.

London Ambulance Service paramedics attended with police and the man was treated before being taken to hospital.

“We continue to assess the circumstances of this incident and our investigation is making progress, but I am not yet able to provide further information about any motive behind the attack," Commander Dominic Murphy, Head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said.

“While officers continue to follow active leads, I am not in a position to release further information about our inquiries into those responsible. However, I can confirm that I am confident these suspects do not present a risk to communities of London or the UK.

“I appreciate the concern this incident has caused, for local people as well as for those in similar lines of work and from Iranian communities.

“We are working closely with the victim’s organisation and additional patrols are continuing in the Wimbledon area and at other locations in London. If you have any concerns, please do speak with these officers.”

Iran International spokesman Adam Baillie said the incident was “hugely frightening” but that Mr Zeraati has now been released from hospital.

"I am also pleased to say that his recovery is going very well," he said.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has been targeting journalists and their families, Mr Baillie said.

“It was a shocking, shocking incident, whatever the outcome of an investigation reveals,” he said.

“But for him [Zeraati] as a leading presenter, as with our other presenters and journalists, yes, it is a great shock. It's the first attack of its kind.”

Iran's charge d'affaires in the UK Mehdi Hosseini Matin denied any link to the incident.

In January, the Foreign Office announced sanctions against members of the IRGC's Unit 840 following an ITV investigation into plots to assassinate two of Iran International's presenters in the UK.

Officials said that plot was the latest credible example of Iran's attempts to kill or intimidate Britons or people with links to the UK, with at least 15 such threats since January 2022.

The London-based Farsi language channel aims to provide independent coverage of Iran, but Tehran has declared it a terrorist organisation.

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 IRGC was using London-based criminals to carry out attacks against opponents of the regime.

Mr Baillie told BBC Radio 4's Today: “Along with our colleagues at BBC Persian, Iran International has been under threat, very heavy threats, for the last 18 months since the IRGC said 'we're coming for you', which they have consistently repeated.”

He said the IRGC “get in touch through proxies, they don't leave a paper trail”.

“No one's going to call up from the IRGC and go 'hey, it's us', but families have been taken in for questioning and threatened.”

He added: “The scale of that has increased dramatically over the last few months, and the scale and the type of questioning is more aggressive, 'tell your relatives to stop working for this channel' and so on.”

In December 2023 an IT worker was jailed for three-and-a-half years for spying on Iran International before a “planned attack” on British soil.

Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev carried out hostile reconnaissance for others at the London headquarters of Iran International in February.

After a trial at the Old Bailey, the Chechnya-born Austrian was found guilty of trying to collect information for terrorist purposes.

Updated: April 01, 2024, 7:01 PM