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UK counterterrorism police investigate an attack on an Iranian TV presenter outside his London home

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LONDON (AP) — British counterterrorism police are investigating the stabbing of an Iranian television presenter outside his home in London as concern grows over threats to a Farsi-language satellite news channel long critical of Iran’s theocratic government.

Pouria Zeraati, a presenter at London-based Iran International, was stabbed in the leg Friday afternoon and is in stable condition at a hospital, the station said. His condition is not believed to be life-threatening.

London’s Metropolitan Police Service said Zeraati’s occupation, together with recent threats to U.K.-based Iranian journalists, triggered the counterterrorism probe, even though the motivation for the attack is still unclear.

“While we continue to assess the circumstances of this incident, detectives are following a number of lines of inquiry and our priority at this time is to try and identify whoever was behind this attack and to arrest them,” Commander Dominic Murphy, head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, said in a statement.

“I appreciate the wider concern this incident may cause — particularly amongst others in similar lines of work, and those from Iranian communities.”

Iran International spokesman Adam Baillie said the stabbing was “hugely frightening.” Although the channel’s journalists have been threatened in the past, this is the first attack of its kind, Baillie told the BBC.

“It was a shocking, shocking incident, whatever the outcome of an investigation reveals,” he said.

Mehdi Hosseini Matin, Iran’s charge d’affaires in the UK, said “we deny any link” to the incident.

Police say they have disrupted “a number” of plots to kill or kidnap people in the U.K. who were seen as enemies of the Iranian government. Officers are working with intelligence agencies to disrupt future plots and provide protection for the targeted organizations and individuals, police said.

Early last year, Iran International temporarily shut down its operations in London and moved to studios in Washington, D.C., after what it described as an escalation of “state-backed threats from Iran.” The station resumed operations at a new location in London last September.

An Austrian man was convicted in December of attempting to collect information likely to be useful for terrorism after security guards spotted him carrying out surveillance on the former headquarters of Iran International. Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev, 31, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison.

Alicia Kearns, chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons, expressed concern that Britain still isn’t doing enough to protect opponents of the Iranian government.

“Whilst we don’t know the circumstances of this attack, Iran continues to hunt down those brave enough to speak out against the regime,” Kearns said on X, formerly Twitter. “Yet I remain unconvinced that we and our allies have clear strategies to protect people in our countries from them, and protect our interests abroad.”

Earlier this month, Foreign Secretary David Cameron condemned the conviction in absentia of 10 journalists from the BBC’s Persian service on propaganda charges against the Islamic Republic of Iran, calling it “completely unacceptable.”

“And also, when I last met the Iranian foreign minister, I raised the case of the fact that Iran was paying thugs to try and murder Iranian journalists providing free and independent information for Iran TV in Britain,” Cameron said in the House of Lords. “On both counts, in my view, they are guilty.”

By DANICA KIRKA
Associated Press

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