Iran Internal television directors Mehdi Parpanchi (L) and Aliasghar Ramezanpour with Pouria Zeraati during his TV show on April 5, 2024

Iran International Host Resumes Program After Stabbing Attack

Saturday, 04/06/2024

In his first program following last week's stabbing attack, Iran International television host Pouria Zeraati expressed gratitude to Iranians and all those who condemned the incident.

Zeraati hosted Aliasghar Ramezanpour and Mehdi Parpanchi, Iran International TV editors in his popular program, “Last Word” aired on Friday.

In the beginning of the program, Zeraati expressed his gratitude to all the people who sympathized with him, further calling the Iranian people as his most important source of energy and inspiration.

“I am committed to the pact I made with the audience and the program’s path has not changed, regardless of what happened and what will be revealed in the future about the details of the incident,” he went on to say.

Zeraati was stabbed outside his residence in Wimbledon, south London, on March 29, and sustained injuries to his leg. He was discharged from hospital two days later.

According to a statement by the Metropolitan Police, the motive for the assault remains unclear. However, due to prior threats emanating from Iranian intelligence circles against Iran International journalists, the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command is spearheading the investigation. The police said the three suspects involved in the incident fled the UK shortly after the attack, which occurred just a few months after a plot by the Iranian regime to kill two other Iran International journalists was revealed.

Pouria Zeraati in hospital on March 30, 2024

According to Zeraati, he and his wife have been transferred to a safe-house under police supervision since he was discharged from hospital. “I insisted on coming to the studio and resuming my program after a weak of postponement and the London Police and Iran International security team cooperated to make it happen,” he said during his program.

Many human rights organizations, trade unions, political figures and civil activists condemned the assault on Zeraati and demanded that the perpetrators be identified and punished.

On Tuesday, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) issued a call to the Iranian regime urging an immediate halt to the targeting of journalists. Meanwhile, Freedom House, a Washington-based NGO, called on British authorities to investigate the stabbing attack on Zeraati as a possible act of transnational repression.

Speaking in the “Last Word” program, Aliasghar Ramezanpour and Mehdi Parpanchi emphasized that the network, despite all the threats of the Iranian government, will continue its professional activities to provide vitally needed information to Iranians, who live under widespread media and internet censorship.

Ramezanpour, executive editor of Iran International in London, said: “This kind of attacks and threats are not new to Iranian journalists. The Islamic Republic cannot tolerate courageous journalists who speak out.” Referring to the widespread repression of journalists inside Iran, he added that Tehran has been trying to apply the same policy to Iranian journalists abroad.

The attack on Zeraati was not the first threat against Iran International, but just as previous threats and pressures had no effect on the work of the network, there will be no change in operations now, Ramezanpour pointed out, stressing that governments in the free world are legally obligated to defend freedom of speech.

Iran International television network, based in London and Washington DC, broadcasts news and views 24/7 on satellite to audiences in Iran. In 2022, Iran International temporarily relocated its television broadcast from London to Washington, DC, after police found information about direct threats to two other journalists at the network.

An Austrian national named Mohammad-Hussein Dovtaev on February 13, 2023. He was detained while filming outside the network’s premises. Iran International resumed broadcasting from its new London headquarters on September 25, 2023.

Mehdi Parpanchi speaking during Zeraati's TV program on Friday

Participating in “Last Word,” Parpanchi, executive news editor at the Washington DC office, condemned the attack on Zeraati as “an attack on free media and freedom of expression” and called on journalists across the globe to react, stand up for journalism and defend freedom of speech.

“Unfortunately, it must be said that the Islamic Republic’s threats will definitely continue its policies. The use of knives, machetes and swords is part of the essence and foundation of the Islamic Republic which has been founded upon bloodshed and has gotten used to it,” Parpanchi pointed out.

He emphasized that Iran International will employ every tool and means available in free countries to hold accountable those responsible for the attacks on its journalists.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, British rights organization ARTICLE 19 voiced extreme concern for the safety of journalists against the threats of the Iranian government.

“The authorities of the Islamic Republic have shown, time and again, that they have no hesitation in using every tool in their armory of repression – from the brutal and unlawful killing of protesters, arbitrary detention of journalists and human rights defenders, to exterritorial threats and operations against dissidents abroad – to maintain their tight grip on power and conceal the atrocities they commit from the eyes of the world,” warned Saloua Ghazouani, Director of ARTICLE 19 Middle East and North Africa Programme.

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