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Iranian TV journalist posts update from hospital after being stabbed outside London home

Pouria Zeraati releases defiant hospital picture after being stabbed (@pouriazeraati)
Pouria Zeraati releases defiant hospital picture after being stabbed (@pouriazeraati)

An Iranian TV journalist who was stabbed outside his London home has posted a picture from his hospital bed, as counterterrorism police were called in to investigate the horrifying knife attack.

Pouria Zeraati was described as being in a stable condition after being stabbed in the leg during the incident, which took place in south London on Friday.

Iran International spokesperson Adam Baillie said on Saturday that the incident was “hugely frightening” but that Mr Zeraati was “doing very well” and recovering in hospital. Hours later, Mr Zeraati posted a picture of himself in hospital, flashing the peace sign.

Iran International, a London-based dissident channel, aims to provide independent coverage of Iran, but the Tehran regime has declared it a terrorist organisation. No arrests have been made so far.

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

It came as witnesses claimed that Mr Zeraati’s attackers were “clearly laughing” as they ran from the scene of the stabbing before getting into a car.

A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said he was walking down the residential street with a friend and witnessed the aftermath.

Iran International journalist Pouria Zeraati was stabbed in south London on Friday (Iran International)
Iran International journalist Pouria Zeraati was stabbed in south London on Friday (Iran International)

He told the Evening Standard: “It’s a very quiet suburban road, and we saw two young men sprinting towards us, about 20 yards away, and [they] then got into a car. They sped off.

“It felt odd. The two men were laughing, quite clearly laughing. I looked two of them in the eye – they were no more than a cricket pitch length away from me.

“We took the number plate, and about 10 seconds later, there’s a man trying to flag us down. We tried to give first aid and take his jeans off.

“He had been stabbed, I think four times. He had his jeans on and he had a pool of blood on his leg. It was [awful] to see.”

Mr Baillie claimed that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have been targeting journalists from the channel along with their families.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It was a shocking, shocking incident, whatever the outcome of an investigation reveals.

“But for him as a leading presenter, as with our other presenters and journalists, yes, it is a great shock. It’s the first attack of its kind.”

Asked what he believed lay behind the attack, Mr Baillie said: “We can’t say. The fact that [Counter Terrorism Policing] is leading the investigation probably speaks for itself.

“Along with our colleagues at BBC Persian, Iran International has been under threat, very heavy threats, for the last 18 months since the IRGC said ‘We’re coming for you’, which they have consistently repeated.”

He said the IRGC “get in touch through proxies, they don’t leave a paper trail”.

“No one’s going to call up from the IRGC and go ‘Hey, it’s us’, but families have been taken in for questioning, and threatened.”

He added: “The scale of that has increased dramatically over the last few months. And the scale and the type of questioning is more aggressive – ‘Tell your relatives to stop working for this channel’ and so on.”

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement that the motivation for the attack was not yet clear, but added that Mr Zeraati’s occupation, coupled with recent threats towards UK-based Iranian journalists, meant that the probe was being led by specialist counterterrorism officers.

Since 2022, several plots to either kidnap or kill British or UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the Iranian regime have been disrupted by police, it is understood.

In January, the Foreign Office announced sanctions against members of the IRGC’s Unit 840 following an ITV investigation into plots to assassinate two of Iran International’s presenters in the UK.

Officials said the plot was the latest credible example of Iran’s attempts to kill or intimidate Britons or people with links to the UK, with at least 15 such threats having been reported since January 2022.

In a separate case in December 2023, an IT worker was jailed for three and a half years for spying on Iran International in preparation for a “planned attack” on British soil.

Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev carried out hostile reconnaissance for others unknown at the London headquarters of the Persian-language television channel in February.

After a trial at the Old Bailey, the Chechnya-born Austrian was found guilty of trying to collect information for terrorist purposes.

Anyone with information should contact police by calling 0800 789 321.