US State Department has strongly condemned threats against Iran International reporters by the entourage of the Iranian president during their visit to the UN this week.

A State Department official sent a statement to Iran International that they "have seen reports of threats, and assault on, an Iran International journalist by a member of the Iranian delegation. The behavior seen in the video footage is unacceptable," the official reiterated.

The Office of the Special Envoy for Iran also posted Thursday a more cautious statement on X, saying that “We condemn the apparent harassment and intimidation of several journalists on U.S. soil. Such behavior is unacceptable.” 

Many Iranian Americans and some Iran observers criticized the brief statement by the Special Envoy, especially the use of the word “apparent harassment” when video footage is widely available showing the attack on the Iran International reporter. Unlike the state department’s official, critics noted that the special envoy didn’t even mention that the attacker was a member of the Iranian delegation. More than 230 people posted comments under the statement of the Special Envoy, mostly critical.

The US statements were referring to several incidents when members of President Ebrahim Raisi’s entourage in New York City harassed and in one case physically attacked an Iran International reporter. Journalists working for the Voice of America Persian Service were also harassed.

On Wednesday, an official from Raisi's delegation attacked Iran International correspondent Kian Amani outside the Millenium Hilton New York One UN Plaza Hotel.

The official tried to grab Amini’s cellphone as he was capturing footage of them exiting the hotel. The hotel's security team finally intervened and halted the aggressor.

In another encounter, an official identified as Reza Naghipour – who ironically accompanied Raisi as a protocol coordinator -- was asked by Amani questions about the protesters who were killed during the regime crackdown on dissent last year. But instead of replying or even refraining from answering, Naghipour started to threaten the reporter, telling him that he “should be trembling with fear until the end of his life” because he works for dissident media.

The State Department official said that the Iranian government "repeatedly curtailed press freedom through threats, intimidation, and the use of violence against journalists in Iran." The official added that "the Iranian government has used detentions or forced confessions as tools to suppress their media." 

The First amendment protects free expression in the United States, the official said, and "the US government will not tolerate the violent suppression of media freedom in the United States." But what counts for the public is the official statement by the Special Envoy, which has left many annoyed. Former National Security Council official Richard Goldberg tweeted, “You gave them the visas to enable it. Oh and $50 billion. Assassination plots. Drone transfers to Russia. Does anyone say this stuff out loud in your office to recognize the insanity?”

The encounters by Raisi’s delegation have drawn countless reactions by other journalists, human rights activists and even media inside Iran. Earlier this year, Iran International's offices in London were forced to relocate to Washington after repeated threats from the IRGC forced the UK's highest security services to admit they were no longer able to safeguard the lives of the reporting team.

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