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London police say suspects in stabbing of Iran International journalist fled U.K. just hours after attack

The Iranian news outlet Tehran targets
The Iranian news outlet Tehran targets 04:27

London — Police said Tuesday night that three people suspected of involvement in a stabbing attack on a journalist working for an Iranian news channel outside his London home had fled Britain. London's Metropolitan Police said Iran International journalist Pouria Zeraati sustained a leg injury when he was stabbed on Friday afternoon. 

Zeraati said he had been discharged from a hospital in the British capital on Saturday and was "residing in a safe place under the supervision of the Met Police" with his wife.

"The amount of your sympathy, kindness and love in past few days has been and is the greatest and best energy for my recovery process," Zeraati said in a social media post.

Considered an opposition channel by many inside the country, Iran International became a prominent source of information for Iranians about the anti-government protests sweeping their country in the wake of the 2022 death of Mahsa Amini in custody. 

Women hold up signs reading in Persian and English "Death to England, Death to BBC, death to Iran International terrorist," during a student-led demonstration condemning the U.K.'s support of London-based Iranian opposition TV stations, outside the British embassy in Iran's capital Tehran, Oct. 27, 2022. STR/AFP/Getty

The network, operated largely by Iranian nationals living in the U.K. and U.S., aired social media videos sent in by people from the streets during that unprecedented challenge to the Iranian authorities' grip on power.

While it is officially banned inside Iran, the channel can be accessed via satellite.

In late 2022, London antiterrorism police informed some of Iran International's employees that there had been credible threats made against their lives. Armed security personnel and new barriers were installed outside their London studio, before the whole studio was moved to a different location.

Tehran claims the channel has ties to Iran's political rival Saudi Arabia, and authorities have branded its employees terrorists. Iran International says its parent company receives money from a Saudi financier, but that it is editorially independent. 

Journalists at Iran International continue reporting despite government opposition 02:18

The London police said Zeratti was attacked at around 3 p.m. on Friday, when he was approached by two men on his residential street. He sustained an injury to his leg, and the suspects fled the scene in a vehicle driven by a third suspect. The three men abandoned the car, which has been recovered and is being examined by police, and left the U.K. from Heathrow Airport a few hours later.

Authorities did not share where the men went from the U.K., but said they were working with international partners to gather more information.

"We are still at an early stage of our investigation, we do not know the reason why this victim was attacked and there could be a number of explanations for this," Commander Dominic Murphy, Head of the Met's Counter Terrorism Command, said in a statement. "All lines of enquiry are being pursued and we are keeping an open mind on any potential motivation for the attack." 

Iran's charge d'affaires in London, Mehdi Hosseini Matin, denied "any link" between the government in Tehran and the stabbing in London, according to the U.K.'s Independent newspaper.

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