LONDON – Britain on Friday brought in a senior Iranian diplomat after what it described as death threats against journalists living in Britain, following weeks of anti-regime protests.
The move coincided with 22-year-old Melika Balali, an Iranian-born wrestler who now lives in Scotland and was given police protection after she was accused of also having been threatened by the Tehran regime.
“I summoned the Iranian chargé d’affaires today after journalists working in the UK faced imminent death threats from Iran,” Foreign Secretary James Cleverly tweeted.
“We do not tolerate threats and intimidation by foreign nations towards people living in the UK,” he said.
Two British-Iranian journalists working in the UK for an independent Farsi broadcaster have received “credible” death threats from Iranian security forces, the channel’s broadcaster said on Monday.
Volant Media, the London-based Iran International TV Channel, said the couple had received “death threats from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.”
The channel reported on anti-regime protests in Iran following the death of Mahsa Amini in mid-September for allegedly violating strict dress codes for women.
Volant Media said London’s Metropolitan Police Force had also informed other journalists about the threats. The Met declined to comment.
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But Police Scotland confirmed on Friday they had put in place a “security plan” to protect Balali, who moved to Scotland a year ago and is now representing her adopted country in British competitions.
When she won gold for Scotland at the British Wrestling Championships in June, Balali held up a sign that read “Stop Force Hijab” and “I have the right to be a wrestler.”
Amini, also 22, died in police custody after she was arrested for allegedly wearing the hijab “improperly”.
Balali shaved his head at a recent protest in Glasgow in an act of solidarity with ongoing protests in Iran over women’s rights.
“These threats make me stronger. When I receive threats from the Iranian government I just think my path is the right one – if I’m wrong then why would they threaten me?” the wrestler told BBC Scotland.
Iran has warned Britain it will “pay” for its actions to destabilize the Islamic Republic amid protests sparked by Amini’s death, state media reported on Wednesday.
Iran says Britain hosts hostile Persian-language media covering the protests. The BBC, in turn, has accused Tehran of waging a campaign of threats and intimidation against its Persian service.