Acting on advice from the police, Iran International has closed its London offices and will move its operations to the United States due to mounting threats against its staff, according to a statement published on 18 February.
The IFJ and its UK-affiliate, the NUJ, have long been campaigning for the protection of journalists and their families at Iran International and BBC Persian Service who have been subjected to long-standing harassment and intimidation from the Iranian regime for their critical reporting on the country. The situation has escalated since the nationwide protests following the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody in September 2022.
NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet called for efforts to be stepped up to support those media outlets impacted and to protect staff and freelance contributors. “As the domestic pressures have ramped up in Iran, so has that regime’s interest in closing down the scrutiny and attention that independent journalism and reporting brings and deterring the work that journalists do day in day out.”
Ms Stanistreet insisted that such behaviour and threats cannot be tolerated. “This cannot be allowed to happen with impunity, and those who threaten journalists and journalism should not be allowed to achieve the outcomes they seek. [...] “The NUJ wants to see practical measures put in place by the UK government that provide appropriate security and guidance is provided to all affected journalists [...] with guarantees of sufficient funding that police and employers can do this swiftly and properly.”
IFJ Secretary General Anthony Bellanger declared: “The forced shut down of Iran International offices in London and its relocation to Washington demonstrate the chilling effect the Iranian regime’s behaviour can have on media freedom if they are allowed to silence journalists in a foreign country. We stand in solidarity with journalists and media workers who have long been persecuted by the Iranian authorities, and call on the UK government to act urgently to protect journalists on UK soil and guarantee media freedom.”