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UK: London-based Iranian journalist stabbed

March 30, 2024

The attack against Pouria Zeraati is the latest in a number of threats faced by Persian-language journalists in Britain. Anti-terrorism police are investigating.

Archive photo of police tape in London
Police have yet to determine whether the attack was connected to Pouria Zeraati's journalismImage: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

British police said on Friday that counter-terrorism officers were investigating the stabbing of a UK-based Iranian journalist.

Pouria Zeraati, a presenter with the independent TV news channel Iran International, was attacked with a knife on Friday afternoon. The police were called to an address in south London after the 30-year-old journalist suffered injuries to his leg.

Iran International English posted on X, formerly Twitter, saying Zeraati had been attacked outside his house in London.

"He has sustained injuries but is in a stable condition. The matter is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police." 

Ongoing investigation

Authorities said that while the motive for the attack was unclear, they were keeping "an open mind," and that "the victim's occupation as a journalist at a Persian-language media organization based in the UK" was being investigated.

"There have been a number of threats directed towards this group of journalists in recent times," it noted.

"Given the occupation of the victim and our publicized concerns about the threat to employees of that organization, the investigation is being led by the Counter Terrorism Command," Dominic Murphy, who heads the unit, said.

Britain's National Union of Journalists (NUJ) expressed its solidarity with Zeraati.

"This cowardly attack on Pouria is deeply shocking, and our thoughts are with him, his family and all of his colleagues at Iran International," NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said in a statement.

There was no immediate response from Iranian officials to the report.

A threat to journalists

London police have been probing threats from Iran targeting UK-based journalists for Persian-language media outlets for years. It has reportedly foiled plots to kidnap or kill UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of Tehran.

In December 2023, a UK court convicted an Austrian national of spying for a group that may have been preparing to attack Iran International.

The Iranian government has declared the outlet a terrorist organization after it reported on protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini in 2022.

Iran: What's changed since Jina Mahsa Amini's death?

In January, Britain imposed sanctions on Iranian officials it said were involved in said threats.

NUJ's Stanistreet said it was "too early to know whether this violent assault is connected to the escalating intimidation and harassment by Iran."

"However, this brutal stabbing will inevitably raise fears amongst the many journalists targeted at Iran International and the BBC Persian Service that they are not safe at home or going about their work," she said.

mk/ab (AFP, Reuters, DPA)