UK summons Iran's top diplomat over threats to journalists

LONDON (AP) — Britain's government said Monday it has summoned Iran's top diplomat in the U.K. after journalists based in the country were targeted for intimidation by Tehran.

The Foreign Office said its Middle East director Vijay Rangarajan met with Iranian Chargé d’Affaires Mehdi Hosseini Matin to “make clear the U.K. will not tolerate threats to life and media freedom."

“I am appalled by the Iranian regime’s continuing threats to the lives of U.K.-based journalists and have today summoned its representative to make clear this will not be tolerated," Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.

On Saturday, Iran International, a Farsi-language TV news channel based in London, said it had moved its broadcasts to Washington to protect its journalists after British police told it about “serious and immediate threats” to the safety of Iranian journalists.

Iran International said "threats had grown to the point that it was felt it was no longer possible to protect the channel’s staff” or the public around its studio in London.

The Metropolitan Police said authorities had foiled “15 plots since the start of 2022 to either kidnap or even kill British or U.K.-based individuals perceived as enemies of the regime,” without elaborating.

The BBC has separately filed a complaint to the United Nations saying there were increased security concerns for journalists working for its Persian service "in light of extraterritorial threats.”

The Foreign Office also said Monday that it was imposing new sanctions against Iranian officials for human rights violations. Those sanctioned included three senior judges for imposing death penalties on protesters, and five commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards.

Britain has imposed sanctions on more than 50 Iranian individuals and entities since September, when the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini following her arrest by the Islamic Republic’s morality police triggered a wave of protests and a violent crackdown by Tehran.

The Associated Press