RSF calls on Iran to cease targeting journalists abroad following suspension of Iran International TV’s UK operations
Iran International TV has suspended its London operations and relocated its broadcasting to Washington, D.C. following threats against its staff. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the continued targeting of Iranian journalists abroad and calls on the Iranian government to immediately cease pressure on independent media.
Despite receiving armed police protection, the Persian-language channel Iran International TV has been forced to close its West London offices because of credible threats to its journalists. London’s Metropolitan Police advised the channel to relocate, following the arrest on 13 February of an Austrian national later charged with collecting information of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
“We condemn the ongoing threats against Iran International which have forced the channel to suspend its UK operations for safety. No journalist should face such risks in connection with their work, whether in Iran, the UK, or anywhere else. We call on the Iranian authorities to immediately cease efforts to silence independent reporting, and urge the UK government to do its utmost to ensure journalists can safely do their jobs.”
These latest threats represent a serious escalation of Iran’s attempts to pressure media outlets and journalists based abroad. Last October, RSF condemned Tehran’s issuing of sanctions to a number of international media outlets operating in the UK, including Iran International TV and BBC Persian. Iranian journalists working in Turkey for outlets including Iran International have also reported being threatened.
Iran International TV said its decision to suspend London operations came after months of threats from the Iranian government and its proxies. It said it would continue broadcasting from Washington, D.C. uninterrupted.
“Let’s be clear: this is not just a threat to our TV station but the British public at large,” General Manager Mahmood Enayat said. “Day and night our journalists strive to deliver to 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 UK government has condemned the actions of the Iranian government. Security Minister Tom Tugendhat said on Twitter that the threats to journalists were “beyond contempt” and that the UK would continue providing “every form of support to ensure that they can continue their work in safety in the UK”.
While such statements are welcome, RSF calls on the UK government to urgently back them up with concrete action.