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London-based TV critical of Iran moving studios to U.S. after threats

LONDON (Reuters) - A London-based television station critical of the Iranian government said on Saturday it was moving its live broadcasting studios to the United States following threats it faced in Britain.

Iran has accused regional rival Saudi Arabia of funding the Persian-language Iran International channel, which has covered anti-government protests in the Islamic Republic extensively. Saudi Arabia has not commented on Tehran's allegations.

"After a significant escalation in state-backed threats from Iran and advice from the Metropolitan Police, Iran International TV says it has reluctantly closed its London studios and moved broadcasting to Washington DC," the channel said in a statement.

The decision came days after London police said an Austrian national had been charged with a terrorism offence after being detained in Chiswick Business Park, where Iran International's headquarters is located. (https://news.met.police.uk/news/man-charged-with-terrorism-offence-462094)

"We still have serious concerns for the safety of people working at this company. This has led to us giving further advice and the company is now relocating," police counter-terrorism head Matt Jukes said in a statement.

"A foreign state has caused such a significant threat to the British public on British soil that we have to move. Let’s be clear this is not just a threat to our TV station but the British public at large," Iran International TV General Manager Mahmood Enayat said in the statement.

The broadcaster, which did not say whether the move to Washington was temporary or permanent, added that threats had grown to the point where it felt it was no longer possible to protect its staff, and the general public.

There was no immediate comment by Iranian officials on the channel's move and allegations of threats against it.

Protests rocked Iran again on Thursday and Friday after seeming to have dwindled in recent weeks, reviving five months of unrest which has posed one of the strongest challenges to the Islamic Republic since the 1979 revolution.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom and Muvija M)