across the pond

Stabbing of prominent Tehran critic in London met with silence from White House, Capitol Hill

U.K. authorities investigating who was behind the attack on Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati

X/Pouria Zeraati

Pouria Zeraati in hospital following the attack

The Biden administration and congressional lawmakers have been reticent to speak out about the stabbing of Iranian journalist Pouria Zeraati in London last week as U.K. counterterrorism officials investigate who was behind the attack. 

Police say that Zeraati, an anchor on the U.K.-based Iran International that has been targeted by the regime in Tehran, was stabbed outside his London home on Friday afternoon by a group of men who fled by car. He remains hospitalized with what officials describe as non-life threatening injuries. 

Zeraati said on social media on Tuesday that authorities have identified three of the suspects, alleging that the trio “managed to escape from British soil by air, within a few hours after the attack.” He added that authorities told him they are working on their extradition with “international partners.”

While the motive for the stabbing remains unknown, the attack comes three months after Britain imposed sanctions on Iranian government officials over their alleged involvement in efforts to kill journalists on U.K. soil. Mehdi Hosseini Matin, Iran’s charge d’affaires in Britain, said on Saturday that Tehran “denies any link” to the knifing despite Iran designating Zeraati’s television station as a “terrorist entity.”

President Joe Biden has yet to speak publicly about Zeraati as of Tuesday afternoon, nor have any members of Congress. The White House did not respond to Jewish Insider’s request for comment on the matter. Congressional lawmakers, meanwhile, say they’re waiting to weigh in.

“This horrific attack is still under investigation, and I will be monitoring the situation for more information,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) told Jewish Insider. “While we should wait for the investigation to conclude before drawing conclusions, Iran has targeted and threatened dissidents and journalists across the world, including here in the U.S., and unfortunately it would not be a surprise if they were indeed behind this attack. 

“Regardless of who is responsible, violence against reporters is a direct affront to freedom and must be taken seriously,” he added. 

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) encouraged law enforcement to look into the matter in a statement, though he similarly declined to point the finger at Tehran. 

“Journalists should be safe and free of persecution no matter where they are or what they cover. I urge the U.K. authorities to investigate this attack thoroughly,” Van Hollen told JI.

A spokesperson for Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) said that the Connecticut Democrat was not “in a position to weigh in” because “police haven’t determined a motive for this attack yet.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul’s (R-TX) office said that he was “following this closely” but would not be commenting at the moment. 

Both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declined to comment on the situation. 

“Nobody wants to end up with egg on their face on the off chance this guy had enemies outside of Iran,” one senior Senate GOP source told JI of the hesitation to connect Tehran to the Zeraati stabbing.

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