Israel said to have warned UK of threat to anti-regime journalists from Tehran

Iran International shifted operations from London office to Washington after police informed it of danger; British government summons top Iranian diplomat over matter

Opposition protesters hold up placards after a march marking the 44th anniversary of Iranian Revolution, in Trafalgar Square, central London on February 11, 2023. (Susannah Ireland/AFP)
Opposition protesters hold up placards after a march marking the 44th anniversary of Iranian Revolution, in Trafalgar Square, central London on February 11, 2023. (Susannah Ireland/AFP)

Israeli security officials gave intelligence to the United Kingdom suggesting that Iran intended to harm journalists at a London-based opposition news station, leading them to shift their broadcasts to Washington, according to a Hebrew media report.

Channel 12 reported on Monday, without citing sources, that after receiving the Israeli warnings on Friday, Iran International immediately instructed its workers to avoid their office, then closed down over the weekend.

The broadcaster described making the decision after London’s Metropolitan Police told it “about the existence of serious and immediate threats to the safety of Iranian journalists” working there.

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

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

The British government on Monday summoned Iran’s top diplomat in London to condemn the “serious threats” to the lives of the journalists.

Police stand guard outside the Iranian Embassy after a small group of protesters threw paint at the building in London, September 25, 2022. (AP/Alastair Grant)

Charge d’Affaires Mehdi Hosseini Matin was hauled in “to make clear the UK will not tolerate threats to life and media freedom,” British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

“I am appalled by the Iranian regime’s continuing threats to the lives of UK-based journalists and have today summoned its representative to make clear this will not be tolerated,” Cleverly added.

“The UK will always stand up to countries who threaten our fundamental values of freedom of expression and the media.”

The diplomat, Iran’s most senior representative in London in the absence of an ambassador, was directed to meet with the head of the UK Foreign Ministry’s Middle East department.

London’s Metropolitan police said Saturday that working with the MI5 spy agency, since the start of 2022, it had foiled 15 plots “to either kidnap or even kill” people seen as “enemies of the (Iranian) regime.”

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