UK’s Security Minister Tom Tugendhat at the British Parliament Monday voiced full support for Iran International TV that had to relocate its broadcasting due to Tehran’s threats.
“The Home Secretary and I absolutely condemn this outrageous violation of our sovereignty, and the attempted violation of the human rights of those journalists,” he said, after the British government determined credible threats to the Persian news network emanating from the government of Iran.
The network announced on Saturday that it decided to move its studio and broadcast operations to its office in Washington DC after more than three months of threats the British police reported against its journalists.
Tugendhat told parliament that “In response, we have put in place an extremely robust range of security measures, including armed policing.” A suspect was arrested February 11 in the vicinity of Iran International’s headquarters in London. He was later arraigned at court on suspicion of terror-related activities.
He explained that despite the security measures put in place and considering the “severity of the threat and the particularities of this site, Counter Terrorism Policing have advised Iran International to move to a more secure location in the United Kingdom.” Until then, he added, the network has “chosen to continue their broadcasting from existing studios in the United States. I can assure the House that this measure will be temporary.”
Iran International studio in London
Tugendhat also announced that UK officials are looking to find a temporary location for the UK operations until a permanent and secure headquarters can start operations for the network.
During the session, Labour MP Holly Lynch said: We should be appalled that Iran International felt the need to close its office after a series of threats made against their brave journalists…IRGC is so free to establish support in UK. We have to stop it. Why are Supreme Leader’s [Ali Khamenei] representatives still here.” Lynch was referring to the Islamic Centre of England and an individual carrying the title of Khamenei’s representative.
The security minister in his speech mentioned this issue and said the government is looking into it, since the outfit is apparently registered as a charity.
Tugendhat said, “Tehran’s efforts to silence Iran International are a direct attack on our freedoms and an attempt to undermine our sovereignty.
They will fail.
Democracy is as much about journalists and civic activists as it is about politicians.”
He pledged that the government will take further action in response to to these threats and said that it has set up the Defending Democracy Taskforce.
“The Government, police, agencies, and our allies are working together to ensure Iran International’s UK operations will resume. These threats will not silence us – nor them,” he insisted.
The security minister told the parliament that Iran’s clandestine operations in the United Kingdom are not new. “Between 2020 and 2022, Iran tried to collect intelligence on UK-based Israeli and Jewish individuals. We believe this information was a preparation for future lethal operations.”
As the session was taking place, the government announced that it summoned Iran's most senior diplomat in London to protest at what were serious threats against journalists living in Britain.
"I am appalled by the Iranian regime’s continuing threats to the lives of UK-based journalists and have today summoned its representative to make clear this will not be tolerated," Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said in a statement.
Citing the great cultural and literary heritage of Iran, Tugendhat said that today “the tyrants in Tehran have betrayed those great pillars of Persian civilization and are trying to silence those words and their own people.”