UK: RSF condemns shocking stabbing of Iran International journalist

Reporters without Borders (RSF) is deeply alarmed by the recent stabbing in London of a journalist working for Iran International, which is being investigated by counter-terrorism police because of previous threats directed by Iran against the Persian-language broadcaster and its journalists.


Pouria Zeraati was attacked outside his south-west London home on 29 March by two men, who then fled in a car driven by a third male. London’s Metropolitan Police have since located the vehicle, and say the suspects left the UK from Heathrow airport within hours. 

It is not yet clear who is behind the attack but, given the serious threats Iran International has faced in the past two years because of its reporting on Iran, the stabbing has sent shockwaves through the UK’s large community of exiled Iranian journalists. 


Iranian journalists working in London have long lived under the shadow of a potential attack, but for this to happen in a residential street in broad daylight is deeply shocking. While we wait for the police to complete investigations, we stand in solidarity with all Iranian journalists who continue to do their jobs with such resilience and bravery and call on the UK authorities to do everything they can to protect journalists under threat.

Fiona O'Brien
RSF UK Bureau Director

Zeraati, who sustained injuries to his leg, has been discharged from hospital and is currently recovering in a safe location under police supervision. Police said they were working with international partners and keeping an open mind as to the motivation for the attack. 

Iran has previously labelled Iran International an enemy of the Islamic Republic, with a senior official of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warning in October 2022 that those “spreading news and spreading lies” should “watch out because we’re coming for you”.

In February 2023, threats to its UK-based journalists became so serious that British police advised the channel to cease broadcasting until it relocated to a more secure London location in September. One plot, detailed by UK broadcaster ITV News, reportedly involved a plan to stab two presenters so that others working for the channel would learn a lesson.

An Iran International spokesman said the attack on Zeraati followed a series of threats against him.  

 While nothing has yet been confirmed by the police as to the identity of his attackers or their motives, there has been, over the past 18 months and more, a clear line linking such threats to the Iranian security forces, Adam Baillie said. “In our minds we only remember that the IRGC stated in October 2022 that they were coming for us. We’ve no doubt they meant it.”

Rising threats since 2022

In parallel with its repression of journalists within Iran, the Iranian regime has long targeted journalists abroad, using a range of online and offline tactics, including direct physical attacks, economic sanctions, online abuse, and the harassment of family members. RSF has documented an increase in the level of threat since 2022, when the death of Mahsa Amini and subsequent protests put Iran – and news media covering it – in the international spotlight.

London is a particular hotspot for intimidation, because of the presence of major Persian-language broadcasters, including Iran International, BBC Persian and the recently closed Manoto TV.

The UK is ranked 26th and Iran is ranked 177th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index


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