Pouria Zeraati: Three accused of TV presenter attack have left UK

Three men suspected of being involved in the stabbing of an Iranian TV host in south London have left the UK, the Metropolitan Police has said.

Pouria Zeraati, 36, was stabbed outside his home in Wimbledon on Friday afternoon.

He has since been discharged from hospital.

Cdr Dominic Murphy said: "We have identified three suspects who we believe left the UK within hours of the attack."

The Met did not say where the men may have gone.

Detectives have established Mr Zeraati was approached by two men in a residential street and stabbed before the pair fled in a blue Mazda 3 driven by a third male.

The car was found abandoned in the nearby New Malden area shortly after.

"We have established that after abandoning the vehicle, the suspects travelled to Heathrow Airport and have left the UK," Cdr Murphy said in an update.

"We are now working with international partners to establish further details."

He added the Met was not yet able to provide further information about any motive, but Mr Zeraati's occupation, coupled with recent threats towards UK-based Iranian journalists, meant the investigation continued to be led by counter-terrorism officers.

The Iranian regime has denied any involvement.

One eyewitness, who did not want to be named, told the BBC they saw two men, dressed in black tracksuits with hoods, sprinting down the road from where the stabbing happened.

"They got 30-40 yards from us on our side of the road coming towards us. They were running side by side - and I saw the car," they said.

The witness added a third man was waiting in a blue car parked near a junction, which the men got into and it quickly drove away.

The men seemed casual and the witness added they did not see any weapons or blood.

On Monday, Mr Zeraati thanked well-wishers for their "sympathy, kindness and love in the past few days".

"Fortunately, I am feeling better, recovering and I have been discharged from the hospital," he posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"My wife and I are residing at a safe place under the supervision of the Met Police."

Mr Zeraati, the host of the Last Word on Iran International, claimed the suspects had purposefully planned the attack.

Iran International says it provides independent coverage of events in the country, but the regime in Tehran has declared it a terrorist organisation.

The channel's spokesman told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Saturday the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had been targeting journalists and their families.

Adam Baillie said: "It was a shocking, shocking incident, whatever the outcome of an investigation reveals.

"But for him as a leading presenter, as with our other presenters and journalists, yes, it is a great shock.

"It's the first attack of its kind."

Iran's charge d'affaires in the UK, Mehdi Hosseini Matin, said "we deny any link".

Nearly 18 months ago, Iran International became one of the main providers of news during a wave of anti-government protests in Iran.

In January this year, the Foreign Office announced sanctions against members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp - one of the most powerful paramilitary organisations in the Middle East - following an ITV investigation into plans to assassinate two of the channel's presenters in the UK.

Iran International resumed its operations in London last September after temporarily moving its broadcasting studios to Washington DC in February 2023 because of a "significant escalation in state-backed threats from Iran".

In a separate case in December last year, Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev, a Chechen-born Austrian national, was jailed for three-and-a-half years for spying on Iran International before a "planned attack" on UK soil.

According to the Met, 15 plots to either kidnap or kill UK-based individuals perceived as enemies of the Iranian regime have been foiled since the start of 2022.

In 2022, two British-Iranian journalists working for Iran International were warned of a possible risk to their lives by the Met.