UK summons Iran envoy over threats to journalists

LONDON — Britain’s government says it has summoned Iran’s top diplomat in the UK after journalists based in the country were targeted for intimidation by Tehran.

The Foreign Office says its Middle East director Vijay Rangarajan met with Iranian Chargé d’Affaires Mehdi Hosseini Matin to “make clear the UK will not tolerate threats to life and media freedom.”

“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,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly says in a statement.

On Saturday, Iran International, a Farsi-language TV news channel based in London, said it had moved its broadcasts to Washington to protect its journalists, after British police told it about “serious and immediate threats” to the safety of Iranian journalists.

Iran International said “threats had grown to the point that it was felt it was no longer possible to protect the channel’s staff” or the public around its studio in London.

The Metropolitan Police said authorities had foiled “15 plots since the start of 2022 to either kidnap or even kill British or UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime,” without elaborating.

The BBC has separately filed a complaint to the United Nations saying there were increased security concerns for journalists working for its Persian service “in light of extraterritorial threats.”

The Foreign Office also says today that it is imposing new sanctions against Iranian officials for human rights violations. Those sanctioned include three senior judges for imposing death penalties on protesters, and five commanders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Britain has imposed sanctions on more than 50 Iranian individuals and entities since September, when the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini following her arrest by the Islamic Republic’s morality police triggered a wave of protests and a violent crackdown by Tehran.

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