Iran ‘posing threat to British public’, warns broadcaster

Iran now poses a direct threat to the British public, the general manager of a UK-based Iranian broadcaster has warned after it confirmed it was quitting for the US as a result of concerns about the safety of its journalists. And Mahmood Enayat’s claim has been backed up by the Metropolitan Police, which says more than a dozen plots targeting UK-based individuals have been detected since last year.

The relocation of Iran International TV to Washington DC comes in the wake of warnings by the Metropolitan Police that there remain “serious” and “grave” concerns about “hostile intentions of foreign states”.

The channel yesterday announced it was “reluctantly” closing its west London studios in Chiswick while insisting its staff “refuse to be silenced by these cowardly threats”.

Mr Enayat said in a statement: “I cannot believe it has come to this. A foreign state has caused such a significant threat to the British public on British soil that we have to move.”

He continued: “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.

“Day and night our journalists strive to deliver the 85 million people of Iran and its diaspora the independent, uncensored news they deserve.

“We refuse to be silenced by these cowardly threats. We will continue to broadcast. We are undeterred.”

The Met said police and MI5 have foiled 15 plots since the start of 2022 to either kidnap or kill UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the Iranian regime.

The force had stepped up security measures focused on the area surrounding the studios of the Persian-language broadcaster, which included an overt armed police presence in the vicinity.

However, assistant commissioner Matt Jukes, head of counter-terrorism policing (CTP), said in a statement: “In light of the ongoing investigation that follows the arrest of a man last weekend in that area, and despite extraordinary security measures, 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.

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“We would like to thank the company for their ongoing understanding with this as we continue to support them.”

He added: “We also appreciate that talking to a media company about moving their operations from a particular location, even though it is due to serious safety concerns, is exceptional.

“The advice to relocate has not been 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 television company has been one of the most prominent sources of news about the recent wave of anti-Government protests which have been sweeping Iran.

Demonstrations were triggered by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last September after she was detained by police in the capital for allegedly not adhering to Iran’s Islamic dress code, enforced by devotees of religious leader Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei.

Protests have taken place in more than 125 cities, with at least 270 people killed and nearly 14,000 arrested, according to the group Human Rights Activists in Iran.

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The UK Government responded to the broadcaster’s move by condemning the “lack of respect for basic rights” demonstrated by the Iranian regime.

A spokesman said: “Media freedom is a vital part of our society and journalists must be able to investigate and report independently without fear.

“We will not tolerate any threat to media organizations or journalists. We know the Iranian regime has established a pattern of this type of behavior which is completely unacceptable, yet sadly typical of the regime and its lack of respect for basic rights.

“The police are continuing to work in response to this threat.

“We will continue to use all tools at our disposal to protect individuals in the UK against any threats from the Iranian state.”

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