A London-based Iranian journalist, who was stabbed and wounded in an attack on Friday being investigated by British counter-terrorism detectives, is in stable condition following a hospital stay.

Pouria Zeraati, who hosts a show on the Persian-language television news network Iran International which is critical of Iran’s government, was attacked and sustained an injury to his leg in the incident in Wimbledon, southwest London, on Friday afternoon.

Police said they are probing whether Zeraati, in his 30s, had been targeted because of his job. Police said his injuries were not believed to be life-threatening and he was in a stable condition.

Last year, Zeraati interviewed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Iran International’s spokesman Adam Baillie confirmed he was in stable condition.

“He’s doing very well, actually. He’s in the hospital recovering from the attack,” Baillie told BBC radio, calling Friday’s attack “a shocking, shocking incident whatever the outcome of (the) investigation reveals.”

“This cowardly attack on Pouria is deeply shocking, and our thoughts are with him, his family and all of his colleagues at Iran International,” said Michelle Stanistreet, the general secretary of Britain’s National Union of Journalists (NUJ), in a statement.

In January, Britain imposed sanctions on Iranian officials it said were involved in threats to kill journalists on British soil.

Those officials were members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Unit 840, which an investigation by ITV news in Britain said was involved in plots to assassinate two television presenters from Iran International in the UK.

“While we are keeping an open mind, given the occupation of the victim and our publicized concerns about the threat to employees of that organization, the investigation is being led by the Counter Terrorism Command,” Commander Dominic Murphy, the head of that unit, said.

“I must stress that, at this early stage of our investigation, we do not know the reason why this victim was attacked and there could be a number of explanations for this.”

Baillie said the channel’s journalists and their families and others had been repeatedly targeted and threatened by the IRGC.

“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’,” he added.

Baillie said the paramilitary security force gets “in touch through proxies” and its tactics include taking in relatives in Iran for questioning and threatening.

“The scale of that has increased dramatically over the last few months. And the scale and the type of questioning is more aggressive,” he added.

Iran’s charge d’affaires in the UK Mehdi Hosseini Matin said on Saturday that Tehran “deny any link” to the incident Friday.

The Iranian government declared Iran International a terrorist organization after it reported on protests sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. She died in 2022 after her arrest in Tehran for an alleged breach of the Islamic republic’s strict dress code for women.

The UK government last year unveiled a tougher sanctions regime against Iran over alleged human rights violations and hostile actions against its opponents on UK soil.

British police and security officials have increasingly warned about Iran’s growing use of criminal proxies to carry out attacks abroad.

They say there have been more than 15 direct threats to kill or kidnap dissidents or political opponents which were linked to the Iranian state apparatus over the last two years.

In December, an Austrian man was convicted of collecting information that could be used in a terrorist attack after he was accused of carrying out “hostile reconnaissance” on Iran International’s London headquarters.

“It is too early to know whether this violent assault is connected to the escalating intimidation and harassment by Iran, including the plot to assassinate journalists Fardad Farahzad and Sima Sabet in 2022,” Stanistreet said.

“However, this brutal stabbing will inevitably raise fears amongst the many journalists targeted at Iran International and the BBC Persian Service that they are not safe at home or going about their work.”

Last year, Channel 12 reported that Israeli security officials gave intelligence to the United Kingdom suggesting that Iran intended to harm journalists at Iran International, leading them to shift their broadcasts to Washington.

Source » timesofisrael