Iran diplomat summoned by UK over journalist threat claims

Iran's most senior diplomat in Britain has been summoned by the Foreign Office after alleged threats were made against journalists living in the UK.

At least two journalists working at UK-based opposition TV station, Iran International, have been warned by police of a "threat to their lives".

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said "intimidation of any kind" towards the press would not be tolerated.

Iran has dismissed the accusation as ridiculous.

The regime has arrested and detained 40 journalists in Iran following ongoing protests across the country over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September.

Mr Cleverly accused the regime of "the suppression of freedom of expression and the targeting of media outlets operating in Iran".

Iran's charge d'affaires, Mehdi Hosseini Matin, was summoned to the Foreign Office on Friday afternoon, after Iran International, a Persian-language news channel, said two of its team had been notified of threats towards them..

"I summoned the Iranian representative today to make clear that we do not tolerate threats to life and intimidation of any kind towards journalists, or any individual, living in the UK," said Mr Cleverly.

At least two journalists have been warned by the Metropolitan Police of "a credible, significant and imminent threat to their lives" after a hostile Iranian reconnaissance unit was reportedly seen outside their homes and offices.

Iran International said: "The UK Met Police have now formally notified both journalists that these threats represent an imminent and significant risk to their lives and those of their families."

It added that other staff members have "also been informed directly" by the Met of "separate threats".

Iran has dismissed the accusation as ridiculous but a senior Iranian official has referred to Iran International as a terrorist organisation, accusing it of stirring up protests in Iran and threatening national security, says BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner.

The Met Police have contacted several UK-based journalists over the last few years after receiving credible information about a threat to their lives, according to the Foreign Office.

Ms Amini was arrested on 13 September by morality police in Tehran for allegedly breaking the country's strict dress code. She fell into a coma shortly after collapsing at a detention centre and died three days later in hospital.

Protests erupted following her death, with hundreds of people reported to have died as the country's security forces clamp down on the unrest.

Last month the UK imposed sanctions on Iran's morality police and other top security figures, in response to the country's violent crackdown on protesters.