Iran International moves shows to Washington, citing threats


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – A Farsi-language satellite news channel based in London that has long been critical of Iran’s theocratic government said Saturday it had moved its broadcasts to Washington “to protect the safety of its journalists” after for Tehran to be focused.

The alleged targeting of Iran International comes as Tehran has also long harassed members of the BBC’s Persian service for their work reporting on the country. However, threats against Farsi-language networks broadcasting abroad have grown exponentially as they cover the nationwide protests that have rocked Iran since September – providing otherwise unheard information. across the Islamic Republic’s state-controlled television and radio networks.

Iran International described the decision as being made after London’s Metropolitan Police told it of “serious immediate threats to the safety of Iranian journalists” working there.

Reached for comment, Iran International referred to a statement that said “threats had increased until it was deemed no longer possible to protect the channel’s staff” or the community around its studio in London.

“A foreign state has made such a threat to the British public on British soil that we have to move. Let’s be clear that this is not only a threat to our TV station but to the British public in general,” said the channel’s general manager Mahmood Enayat. “Furthermore this is an attack on the values ​​of sovereignty, security and free speech that the UK has always held dear.”

Enayat added: “We refuse to be silenced by these cowardly threats. We will continue to broadcast. We are under siege.”

Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Iran International linked its decision to London police days earlier announcing the arrest and charge of Austrian national Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev, 30, for allegedly “gathering information of a nature likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act terrorism.”

Police say they arrested Dovtaev a week ago at Chiswick Business Park in London, where the offices of Volant Media UK Ltd., the owner of Iran International, are located. However, the police did not directly connect Dovtaev with a threat against the channel. Police reportedly sent armed officers around the channel in November because of threats against it.

It was not immediately clear if Dovtaev had a lawyer.

Voltant Media, once majority owned by an Arab national, broadcasts another channel called Afghanistan International.

Iran International has focused heavily on the nationwide protests that have swept Iran since the death in September of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish woman who was earlier detained by the country’s morality police. Iran’s Ministry of Information describes the channel as a “terrorist organization.”

“The Ministry of Information will hunt down its workers and affiliates,” said Minister of Information Esmail Khatib in November. “And henceforth, any kind of connection with this terrorist organization will be considered equivalent to engaging in terrorism and a threat to the national security of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

That same month, the broadcaster said the Metropolitan Police had warned two of its British-Iranian journalists had received threats from Iran that represented “an immediate, credible and significant risk to their lives and the lives of their families.” Meanwhile, another outspoken critic of the Iranian government living in the United States has faced multiple alleged plots by Tehran targeting her.

The BBC made a separate complaint to the United Nations in February saying there were “increasing security concerns for BBC News Persian journalists in light of extraterritorial threats.”

Associated Press writer Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.

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