Iranian TV station closes London studios after regime threats to staff

British police say they have 'serious concerns' for the safety of Iran International TV staff

The TV channel reports on politics, human rights abuses and other topics in Iran. Reuters
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Iran International TV, the UK-based independent network, announced on Saturday it had been forced on police advice to shut down its London studios.

It comes after staff received death threats and what the company described as a "significant escalation in state-backed threats from Iran".

With its headquarters in west London, Iran International was founded in 2017 and is owned by Volent Media. The channel reports on human rights abuses including honour killings and gender-based violence in Iran.

"I cannot believe it has come to this," said the network's general manager, Mahmood Enayat.

"A foreign state has caused such a significant threat to the British public on British soil that we have to move.

"Let's be clear this is not just a threat to our TV station but the British public at large. Even more this is an assault on the values of sovereignty, security and free speech that the UK has always held dear."

The decision was taken late on Friday, a source at the station said, following the arrest last weekend of an Austrian-Iranian man in the vicinity of the studios in Chiswick, west London.

Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev, 30, was charged on Monday "with collecting information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism", police said.

In November, police installed concrete barriers outside the studios, similar to those at key government buildings and tourist spots in the British capital, to prevent any attack by vehicle.

On Saturday, the police said that despite the man's arrest, "we still have serious concerns for the safety of people working at this company".

"This has led to us giving further advice and the company is now relocating," it said, adding that its advice was "exceptional" and not "given lightly".

"The situation that journalists face around the world and the fact that some journalists face such hostile intentions of foreign states whilst in the UK is a challenging reality that we are determined to confront."

The company will be continuing its 24-hour broadcasts from the station's offices in Washington.

Updated: February 19, 2023, 10:31 AM