UN Condemns Violence, Threats Against Persian Language Media Iran International

According to the experts, there have been at least 15 credible Iranian plots to kill or kidnap individuals in the United Kingdom since 2022.


Devdiscourse News Desk | Geneva | Updated: 31-05-2024 13:11 IST | Created: 31-05-2024 13:11 IST
UN Condemns Violence, Threats Against Persian Language Media Iran International
Representative image Image Credit: ANI

UN experts have strongly condemned acts of violence, threats, and intimidation targeting the Persian language news service Iran International, its journalists, staff, and its owner, Volant Media UK Limited, denouncing them as part of a broader pattern of repression against Persian language media, including BBC News Persian.

The experts expressed deep alarm over the escalation of threats and intimidation against Iran International, culminating in the violent stabbing of journalist Pouria Zeraati outside his home in London on March 29, 2024. Such attacks not only violate the rights to life and personal security but also aim to suppress freedom of expression and the media, particularly legitimate criticism of the Iranian Government.

Since its establishment in 2017, Iran International and its personnel have faced threats, harassment, and extensive abuse on social media by Iranian authorities and their proxies, intended to silence critical reporting on Iran. These threats intensified following the "Woman, Life, Freedom" protests in Iran in 2022, with Persian media abroad falsely accused of inciting unrest.

According to the experts, there have been at least 15 credible Iranian plots to kill or kidnap individuals in the United Kingdom since 2022. British counter-terrorism police issued warnings to Iran International personnel, including Volant’s General Manager, Mahmoud Enayat, in November 2022, leading them to flee the UK. Additionally, a plot to assassinate two television presenters, including Fardad Farahzad, was thwarted in November 2023.

Due to safety concerns for its staff, Iran International temporarily closed its London studios for six months in February 2023 on the advice of British authorities.

The experts expressed concerns about the potential chilling effect of these attacks and threats on journalists both inside and outside Iran. They highlighted incidents of transnational repression, including the physical and verbal assault of Iran International journalist Kian Amani by a member of Iran’s UN delegation in New York in September 2023.

Moreover, Iran imposed travel and financial sanctions on Volant Media and Iran International in 2022, alleging support for terrorism, and froze assets of owners and their family members in Iran in 2019.

The experts deplored the misuse of counter-terrorism laws against journalists, which violates various fundamental rights including freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, as well as the right to privacy, family rights, reputation, and due process.

They urged Iran to refrain from violence, threats, and intimidation against Iran International, its staff, and other journalists reporting on Iran from abroad, and called for thorough investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for such acts.  

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