Armoured Cars in Chiswick Due to Threats Against Iranian Broadcaster

Police say residents should not be alarmed by 'overt presence'

Armoured police vehicles in Chiswick Business Park. Picture: Iran International TV

A large armed police presence appeared in Chiswick Business Park this Saturday (19 November) due to potential threats to staff at a Persian language broadcaster.

Iran International TV is based in the office development off the High Road and the police say that threats have been made to some of its journalists by the Iranian government.

Several marked police vehicles included armoured cars as well as armed officers were seen in position outside the building where the company operates from.

A spokesperson for the Met said, “Those affected have been given appropriate advice and support and a number of protective security measures have been put in place to mitigate against these threats. Whilst we will not be going into detail as to what these are, it does include the presence of overt armed police officers in the vicinity of the west London offices of a UK-based Persian language media company. This is a precautionary measure and we would ask the public to be alert but not alarmed by the presence of police in the area.”

Iran International TV broadcasts into Iran via free-to-air satellite and has content which is critical of the Islamic Republic. The company was recently designated a terrorist organisation by the Tehran regime due to its coverage of the protests prompted by the death of Mahsa Amini on 16 September after her arrest by the morality police.

Iran’s Intelligence Minister Esmail Khatib said on 9 November that its workers and anyone affiliated with the channel would be pursued by the Ministry of Intelligence.

It is understood that lower level operations from officers from Project Servator have been taking place in Chiswick Business Park since earlier this month. Project Servator is the unit at the Met tasked with dealing with terrorist threats.

Volant Media, the parent company of Iran International, said that two of its journalists had recently been notified of direct threats.

The station says it did not request the armed response from the police. A spokesman told the Times they believed the Met were there to reassure staff and deter and action against them adding, “We don’t know how long the Armed Response Vehicles will be deployed but staff continue to take precautions as previously advised by our security director”.

Earlier in the week MI5 disclosed that at least 10 potential plots to kidnap or kill UK-based journalists considered hostile to the regime had been uncovered. Since the establishment of clerical rule in 1979 several assassinations and kidnappings of journalists critical of the regime have taken place. The Times reported in 2019 that the Iranian government was waging an intimidation campaign against staff at Iran International.

An armoured police van at Chiswick Business Park
An armoured police van at Chiswick Business Park. Picture: Iran International TV

The Islamic Republic has accused several broadcasters, including the BBC Persian service, of fomenting unrest in the country. Protests have continued to grow over the last few weeks with many demonstrators chanting ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’ in protest at the restrictive laws in the country which fall heaviest on women. Domestic broadcasters in Iran are strictly controlled by the state but, by some estimates, Iran International has an audience share of up to a third. As well as satellite transmission it streams news online and broadcasts on shortwave radio and covers issues such as women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights winning international awards.

Volant Media is widely believed to be effectively owned by figures close to the Saudi Arabian government. The Saudi’s and the Iranians are the two major powers in the Middle East and their proxies are often in conflict in the region. The Guardian has reported that Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, is involved in funding the operation. He has been accused of involvement in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Turkish journalist who was critical of his regime.

The Met has advised Chiswick residents not to be unduly concerned but to remain vigilant and report anything that doesn't look or feel right to them by calling 0800 789 321 or call 999 if it is an emergency.


Like Reading Articles Like This? Help Us Produce More

This site remains committed to providing local community news and public interest journalism.

Articles such as the one above are integral to what we do. We aim to feature as much as possible on local societies, charities based in the area, fundraising efforts by residents, community-based initiatives and even helping people find missing pets.

We’ve always done that and won’t be changing, in fact we’d like to do more.

However, the readership that these stories generates is often below that needed to cover the cost of producing them. Our financial resources are limited and the local media environment is intensely competitive so there is a constraint on what we can do.

We are therefore asking our readers to consider offering financial support to these efforts. Any money given will help support community and public interest news and the expansion of our coverage in this area.

A suggested monthly payment is £8 but we would be grateful for any amount for instance if you think this site offers the equivalent value of a subscription to a daily printed newspaper you may wish to consider £20 per month. If neither of these amounts is suitable for you then contact and we can set up an alternative. All payments are made through a secure web site.

One-off donations are also appreciated. Choose The Amount You Wish To Contribute.

If you do support us in this way we’d be interested to hear what kind of articles you would like to see more of on the site – send your suggestions to the editor.

For businesses we offer the chance to be a corporate sponsor of community content on the site. For £30 plus VAT per month you will be the designated sponsor of at least one article a month with your logo appearing if supplied. If there is a specific community group or initiative you’d like to support we can make sure your sponsorship is featured on related content for a one off payment of £50 plus VAT. All payments are made through a secure web site.


November 22, 2022