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UN Expert Highlights Tehran’s Targeting of Exiled Persian-Language Journalists

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An independent United Nations expert has issued a warning regarding Iran’s ongoing efforts to target Iranian and Iranian-origin journalists working abroad, particularly those associated with foreign Persian-language media outlets.

In her comprehensive report to the UN General Assembly, Irene Khan, a prominent human rights advocate, detailed the extensive pressures these journalists face as part of Tehran’s broader campaign to suppress dissenting voices globally.

Khan’s findings reveal a trend of increased exile among journalists who flee their home countries to escape persecution and continue their work in an environment free from state interference.

“Fearing for their own safety or that of their families back home and struggling to survive financially and overcome the many challenges of living in a foreign country, many journalists eventually abandon their profession,” she said.

The situation for Persian-language journalists is particularly dire, with numerous reports of threats and physical attacks on individuals and their families. The case of Pouria Zeraati, a presenter for Iran International who was stabbed in London, alongside the IRGC’s plots to assassinate two anchors from the same network in 2022 during anti-government protests in Iran, underscores the perilous circumstances faced by Iranian journalists abroad.

Khan’s report calls on host countries to provide stronger legal protections, work permits, and more robust support mechanisms to safeguard the journalists’ rights and well-being.

She emphasized the need for an international response that not only shields journalists from physical and digital threats but also ensures they can continue their crucial role in fostering transparency and accountability without fear of retribution from their home countries or their proxies.