'We will come for you': Iran's threat to dissidents in Britain

Tehran targeting journalists from news outlets in London reporting on internal dissent over headscarf ban

Activists outside the Iranian Embassy in London in a show of international solidarity with anti-government protests in Iran. PA
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Agents from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are targeting dissidents in Britain with the threat “we will come for you”, it has been reported.

An exiled Iranian journalist who is now under British police protection following the warnings disclosed last week said it was clear that Tehran has sent a hit team to London.

It is understood that the regime is targeting Iranian news outlets in Britain for their role in reporting the current internal dissent over the headscarf ban.

Aliasghar Ramezanpoor, a former deputy culture minister in Tehran, is among those who have been told by counterterrorism officers, working with the security service MI5, that he is a target.

“They [IRGC agents] are saying that if you don’t stop what you are doing, we will come to you; that’s the message,” he told The Sunday Times.

“As long as they see their threats have an effect, they keep doing more. We try and ignore the threats when we do our job. We take them very seriously when we are at home or with our transport.”

He claimed that the regime was intent on stopping news reports of the unrest in Iran and his Farsi-language television station Iran International, based in west London, was one of the few accessible outlets for demonstrators.

With “the situation and the crackdown of internet and social media” in Iran the only outlet that the local population had “is media like us”, he said.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has been accused of sending hit squads to London. AFP

Mr Ramezanpoor was among a number of reporters who last week received credible and “imminent” threats on their lives after an IRGC assassination squad had reportedly been sent to Britain.

James Cleverly, the British Foreign Secretary, was furious and summoned the most senior Iranian diplomat, stating that Britain would “not tolerate threats to life and intimidation of any kind towards journalists, or any individual, living in the UK”.

In a letter from the counterterrorism police sent to other journalists based in Britain, it was disclosed that there were strong indications of Iran “directing physical attacks against dissidents in Europe”.

It is understood that hundreds of journalists and activists have received letters from the UK authorities warning that they could be duped into returning to Iran where they would subsequently be sentenced to death.

There are also concerns that dissident reporters could be under threat of kidnap by Iranian agents in Qatar during World Cup. England play their first game in the tournament against Iran on November 21.

Mr Ramezanpoor, 61, helped found BBC Persian in 2009 before setting up Iran International in 2017.

Updated: November 13, 2022, 3:33 PM