UK's Cleverly flags Iran sanctions after journalists threatened in London

Several people working at an Iranian news channel in British capital were sent chilling death threats

Britain's Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. AP
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The British government has hinted at further sanctions against the Iranian regime after journalists with dual citizenship were sent death threats.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly declined to say there were plans to hit the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) with further punitive measures after staff at a TV channel in West London were given round-the-clock armed police protection.

Iran International in November said several members of staff had been sent “credible threats to life” from the IRGC.

In response, Mr Cleverly summoned the Iranian Charge d’Affaires, Tehran’s top diplomat in the UK, Mehdi Hosseini Matin.

During a debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Labour MP Fabian Hamilton questioned Mr Cleverly about the government’s response to Iran in light of recent threats made against journalists.

He said journalists at BBC Persia had also been threatened by the Iranian regime and asked if the government would impose further sanctions on the IRGC.

Mr Cleverly said it was “counterproductive to detail what future sanctions and designations might be brought in to ensure that the targets of those sanctions do not in any way try to evade the sanctions before they’re brought in”.

He continued: “The UK remains absolutely determined to ensure that Iran does not intimidate people within this country. We will always stand up to the aggression from foreign nations.

“We will absolutely not tolerate threats, particularly towards journalists who are highlighting what is going on in Iran, or indeed any other individual living in the UK.”

Touching on the case of Iran International journalists being threatened, he said the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), in partnership with the Home Office, had ensured that those Iranian journalists were protected by the British police.

Aliasghar Ramezanpour, executive editor of Iran International, told The National that journalists would continue with their work in defiance of the threats. He said the regime was trying to silence them after the channel’s recent coverage of protests across the nation.

Earlier this year, his relatives in Iran were summoned to a meeting by security services linked to the Revolutionary Guard and shown photographs of him going about his daily business in London. They were also told that his movements were being observed, he said.

“That was quite shocking, actually, when I knew that they had that kind of picture,” he said. “They told them ’London is sometimes a dark city, it is not always safe.’”

Updated: December 13, 2022, 2:47 PM