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Pouria Zeraati: Iranian journalist shares provocative photo of himself from hospital bed after stabbing in London

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An Iranian TV journalist who was stabbed outside his London home on Friday shared a defiant photo of himself in hospital – after a colleague at his channel said threats against his staff had ‘intensified significantly “.

Pouria Zeraati, presenter of a television channel based in London Iran International, was stabbed in the leg outside his home in Wimbledon, south London, on Friday afternoon.

A photo the 36-year-old shared on social media on Saturday afternoon showed him making a “peace” sign with his fingers in a hospital bed.

Police said the motivation for the attack was not yet clear, but its occupation – coupled with recent threats against Iranian journalists based in the UK – meant the investigation was being led by specialist counter-attack officers. against terrorism.

Pouria Zeraati.  Photo: Iran International
Picture:
Pouria Zeraati. Photo: Iran International

Iran International spokesperson Adam Baillie said the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was targeting its broadcasters.

In October 2022, the IRGC – a key security force for the Tehran regime – “openly” and “naudally” warned Iran International “we are coming for you”, Mr Baillie added.

Asked what motivated the attack itself, he said: “We can’t say. The fact that counterterrorism is leading the investigation probably speaks for itself.”

But he added that Mr Zeraati had previously received death threats and that threats against Iran International staff had “significantly intensified” over time.

Since 2022, several plots to kidnap or kill British or UK-based individuals perceived to be enemies of the Iranian regime have reportedly been foiled by police.

Mehdi Hosseini Matin, Iran’s charge d’affaires in the UK, said “we deny any link” to Friday’s stabbing attack.

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But speaking to Sky News, Iran International’s Mr Baillie said: “I’ve just spoken to him (Mr Zeraati)… and he seemed very well – obviously very shaken by the whole thing.

“But he is recovering well and is looking forward to getting back to work, which is great.

“It’s a big shock because this is the first kind of physical attack against a member of staff.

“But our staff have been subject to considerable threats for a good year and a half.

“Threats have increased significantly against people, including Pouria, who has received numerous death threats over the past 18 months and is a prime target, along with other high-profile presenters on our channel. “

Iran International temporarily closed its operations in London early last year and moved to its studios in Washington after what it described as an escalation of “Iranian state-sponsored threats”. The station resumed operations at a new location in London last September.

“Since the channel’s inception in 2017, people who work for it have faced a lot of pressure, both overt and covert, from Iranian state authorities,” Mr Baillie said.

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He added that Iran International, alongside BBC Persian, had been labeled a terrorist channel by the IRGC and the families of those working for them had been threatened.

Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), called Friday’s stabbing a “cowardly attack” and “deeply shocking”, adding that it would “inevitably bring fear to the many journalists targeted by Iran International and the BBC Persian Service that they are not safe at home or at work.

Asked about the attitude of Iranian journalists to such pressure, Mr Baillie added: “The show must go on. That’s quite the attitude.

“And it’s very visible that although it’s extremely worrying to live and work under this kind of constant threat… people are getting through it and they’re very committed journalists.

“They are committed to a free press, an open press and the sharing of information, which they do very successfully. And the more they succeed at that, the greater the threats.”

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