By Sam Tobin
LONDON (Reuters) – An Austrian man carried out “hostile reconnaissance” against a London-based television station critical of Iran’s government to collect information which could have been used in an attack on the channel, prosecutors told a London court on Monday.
Just hours after flying in from Austria in February, Magomed-Husejn Dovtaev is said to have tried to record the security arrangements of the Persian-language Iran International channel’s headquarters in west London, the court heard.
Dovtaev, 31, is charged with a single count of attempting to collect information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutor Nicholas de la Poer told London’s Old Bailey on Monday that Iran International became a target for reprisals following its reporting on the death in custody of Mahsa Amini in Iran last year and subsequent protests in the country.
Iran’s minister of intelligence later declared Iran International a terrorist organisation, de la Poer said, which meant its employees “became targets for violent reprisals”.
“The prosecution does not suggest that (Dovtaev’s) purpose on Feb. 11 was to carry out such an attack or that it was intended that he would participate in an attack on a further date,” de la Poer said.
But, de la Poer added, Dovtaev went to Iran International’s headquarters, “no doubt acting on the instructions of others”, in order to gather information about its security arrangements.
He told the jury this information would be useful to anyone planning a terrorist attack against Iran International.
Dovtaev’s visit “demonstrates that planning by others was already under way”, de la Poer said, saying that videos pre-dating Feb. 11 of Iran International’s headquarters and security protection had been saved to his phone.
The trial, which is expected to conclude next week, continues.
(Reporting by Sam Tobin; Editing by Alison Williams)