Pouria Zeraati attack: Suspects in stabbing of Iranian journalist 'flew in from Europe'

Detectives investigating knife attack in London probe link to Albania

Iran International journalist Pouria Zeraati was stabbed outside his home in south-west London. Photo: Pouria Zeraati
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An Iranian journalist stabbed in London has shared a report that claims his attackers were hired from eastern Europe and flown in to Britain ahead of the incident.

Pouria Zeraati, host of Iran International's Final Word, was stabbed in the leg outside his home in Wimbledon last month.

He posted on X on Friday, sharing a story detailing the latest police theories about the attack.

According to The Guardian, detectives believe three male suspects were hired from eastern Europe to carry out the attack and one may be linked to Albania.

Those who planned the attack, which is believed to be linked to the Iranian regime, are thought to have used knowledge of criminal gangs to hire the attackers, it added.

The strategy of using proxies makes it easier for Iran to deny involvement, while anyone hired from eastern Europe is unlikely to be on UK watch lists.

Mr Zeraati, 36, was crossing the road to get to his car outside his home in south-west London when a man wearing a black hooded tracksuit approached him.

“He said, ‘Brother, I need £3 in cash,'” Mr Zeraati told The Sunday Times.

He told the man he did not have any change. At that point, a second man ran across the road and grabbed Mr Zeraati in a bear hug.

He said he could not see the man’s face or move his hands but saw the first man take a knife from his pocket.

“It was like something gangsters would use; it wasn’t a kitchen knife. The whole thing lasted about 10 seconds." he added.

“In those few seconds, the only thing I was thinking was: where is he going to stab me – in my throat, in my eyes, in my heart? They had the chance to kill me.”

Mr Zeraati was stabbed in the back of his right thigh. He was taken to hospital, where he received stitches for the wound and was sent home within 48 hours.

Iran International and its journalists have previously been targets of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The channel in London aims to provide independent coverage of Iran, which has declared the outlet a terrorist organisation.

In January, the British Foreign Office imposed sanctions on members of the IRGC’s Unit 840, after an ITV investigation into a plot to kill two Iran International presenters in the UK.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) this week urged the UK government to better protect Iranian journalists who are being targeted with "chilling" repression by Tehran.

RSF said almost 90 per cent of Iranian journalists surveyed had experienced online threats or harassment, including death or rape threats, in the past five years.

Female respondents said they or their family members had been sent explicit images while facing campaigns to damage their reputations.

"Iran has for a very long time been systematically targeting journalists who report on Iran from abroad in an effort to silence them," RSF UK director Fiona O'Brien said. "The impact on journalists and on journalism is really devastating."

Updated: April 19, 2024, 8:41 AM