Iranian official threatens UK over coverage of ongoing protests

The UK-based Iran International news agency reported recently that its journalists had been threatened by the IRGC.

 A police officer stands on duty outside the Iranian embassy in Kensington, central London December 2, 2011. (photo credit: TOBY MELVILLE/REUTERS)
A police officer stands on duty outside the Iranian embassy in Kensington, central London December 2, 2011.

Iran's Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib claimed that the UK was leading "propaganda" efforts and feeding the ongoing protests sweeping Iran since the killing of Mahsa Amini by Iranian "morality police," in statements on Tuesday.

Khatib complained that the US, UK, Israel and Saudi Arabia had conducted "the greatest 'influence operation' on a country taken to destabilize that country and create unrest in it through hybrid warfare."

The minister pointed to Israel as the main factor in "implementation," saying that "in terms of propaganda, England’s role was clearer." Khatib added that Saudi Arabia was funding the alleged "influence operation" as well.

"Unlike England, we will never support acts of terrorism and the creation of insecurity in other countries," said Khatib. "However, we also have no obligation to prevent insecurity in those countries either. Therefore, England will pay for the measures it has taken to try to make Iran insecure."

Khatib additionally threated the Iran International news network, based in London, calling it a "terrorist organization" and warning that its "operatives" would be pursued by Iranian intelligence. It was unclear if the minister was threatening to attack reporters in the UK.

 Iranian woman protests at night, November 2022 (credit: 1500tasvir) Iranian woman protests at night, November 2022 (credit: 1500tasvir)

"From here on, any kind of connection with this terrorist organization will be considered to be tantamount to entering the field of terrorism and a threat to national security," warned the minister.

Khatib warns Iran will not be 'patient' with Saudi Arabia

Khatib ridiculed Saudi Arabia for its alleged support of the protests in Iran, stating "our fate and that of other countries in the region are tied together due to our neighborhood."

"From Iran's point of view, any instability in the countries of the region is contagious, and any instability in Iran can be contagious to the countries of the region," said the minister. "Faraway countries are the destabilizers of the region. Throwing stones at powerful Iran by countries sitting in glass houses has no meaning other than crossing the borders of rationality into the darkness of stupidity."

Khatib additionally warned that Iran would not guarantee the continuation of "strategic patience" towards Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region amid what he called "the continuation of hostilities."

"Undoubtedly, if the will of the Islamic Republic of Iran is given to reciprocate and punish these countries, the glass palaces will collapse and these countries will not see stability."

Iranian media has referred to Iran International as a "Saudi" news outlet, and IRGC officials have warned Saudi Arabia to "control" media outlets it deems as "promoting mischief" and "provoking" Iranian youth.

Last week, Saudi Arabia warned the US that there was an "imminent attack" being planned by Iran against targets in Iraqi Kurdistan and Saudi Arabia, prompting the US and other countries to raise their alert level, according to Western media. The US reportedly launched fighter jets towards Iran in response to the threats.

'Credible threats' made against Iran International journalists in the UK

Volant Media, the parent company of Iran International, reported on Monday that there were "credible threats" made by the IRGC against journalists working for Iran International in the UK.

"Two of our British-Iranian journalists have, in recent days, been notified of an increase in the threats to them. The Metropolitan Police have now formally notified both journalists that these threats represent an imminent, credible and significant risk to their lives and those of their families. Other members of our staff have also been informed directly by the Metropolitan Police of separate threats," said the company.

"Our journalists are subject to abuse 24/7 on social media. But these threats to life of British-Iranian journalists working in the UK marks a significant and dangerous escalation of a state-sponsored campaign to intimidate Iranian journalists working abroad. These lethal threats to British citizens on British soil come after several weeks of warnings from the IRGC and Iranian government about the work of a free and uncensored Farsi-language media working in London."

Members of the British parliament expressed outrage in light of the reported threats, calling for the UK to declare the IRGC a terrorist organization.