The TV news channel Iran International has created a “mini fortress” at its new base in London before it starts broadcasting again on Monday.
Following credible security threats against journalists from the Iranian state in February, the news channel has now built a 100-metre steel fence around its new headquarters at an undisclosed location in north London.
The broadcaster has also been in close liaison with counter-terrorism officers from the Metropolitan Police after intelligence that Tehran operators were allegedly planning to murder or kidnap its journalists.
The Farsi-language news broadcaster has now moved sites with a major security operation installed, including steel barriers and patrols.
Adam Baillie, Lead Media Liaison for Iran International, told The National the new premises had "state-of-the-art security" that gave the feel of a "mini fortress". He added: "People can't get anywhere near it."
Its journalists now hope to reconnect with Iranians who had risked arrest by sending in video clips of the mass protests that followed the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody last year.
“Britain is the home of free speech,” said Mahmood Enayat, the station’s general manager. “Resuming our broadcast from here is a statement that we will not be deterred from serving the Iranian people with independent, uncensored news. It is great to be back broadcasting from London.”
In mid-February the station, which is owned by Volant Media, a group made up of private investors, including a British-Saudi businessman, was informed by Scotland Yard that intelligence suggested it faced an imminent attack from kidnappers and assassins sent by Iran.
The reports stated there were “multiple threats” against the broadcaster’s staff, in particular those born in Iran. The security services also said at the time: “We don’t know how we can prevent the attack.”
After an eight-month wait, the channel has found new offices that it has now secured on a similar level to the security in place around the Westminster parliament. Iran International will begin broadcasting again from its London office on Monday afternoon.
It will mark a return to London for Iran’s most watched news channel after broadcasting was temporarily moved to the United States.
The channel said it was the “trusted and respected provider of unbiased and uncensored news and analysis in Iran”, with a global audience of more than 30 million from within Iran and abroad.
Iran International provided a major platform to broadcast uncensored news of the protests following the death of Ms Amini, 22, after her arrest in September last year for wearing the hijab “improperly”.
At the height of the protests, the station broadcast footage, filmed on demonstrators’ phones and sent via the internet to Iran International, despite the risk of arrest.
As the London station reopened, Mr Enayat praised his journalists for their “committed and steadfast work during this challenging period” and thanked the Met Police and British government for “their continuing support in protecting our staff and the wider cause of global press freedom”.
Iran International TV will now broadcast from the secured site in north London for which the company has paid out of its own funds.
A man arrested in February for terrorism offences after allegedly conducting surveillance of the channel’s former headquarters in Chiswick, west London, is in custody awaiting trial.