LONDON — Independent TV network Iran International is moving its operations from the UK to the US because of threats against its London-based journalists.
The Persian-language TV channel said that the decision was due to a “significant escalation in state-backed threats from Iran”.
“Threats had grown to the point that it was felt it was no longer possible to protect the channel’s staff,” it said. The station will continue to operate from its offices in Washington DC.
In November, two British-Iranian journalists from the channel were warned by police of a possible risk to their lives. An armed police presence was stationed near the channel’s studios in Chiswick, west London, and concrete barriers were placed outside the building.
London’s Metropolitan Police said 15 plots had been foiled since the start of 2022 to either kidnap or kill UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the Iranian regime.
“I cannot believe it has come to this,” said the network’s general manager, Mahmood Enayat. “A foreign state has caused such a significant threat to the British public on British soil that we have to move,” he said.
“Let’s be clear, this is not just a threat to our TV station, but the British public at large.”
Iran International has been one of the most prominent providers of news on the recent wave of anti-government protests in Iran.
Protests swept across the country in September following the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by morality police for allegedly not wearing her hijab properly.
In October, the Iranian government announced sanctions against Iran International and BBC News Persian, accusing them of “incitement of riots” and “support of terrorism” over their coverage of the anti-government protests that have engulfed the country over the past two months.
The two UK-based channels are already banned from Iran, but a press freedom watchdog says they are among the main sources of news and information in a country where independent media and journalists are constantly persecuted. BBC