U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Journalist assaulted filming Iranian delegation's New York visit

Incident Details

Date of Incident
September 20, 2023
New York, New York


Was the journalist targeted?

A journalist for Iran International, third from left, had his phone grabbed at by an Iranian official in New York on Sept. 20, during a visit by Iran’s president.

September 20, 2023

A correspondent for Iran International was assaulted on Sept. 20, 2023, in New York City by an official from the delegation of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, according to the London-based, Persian-language TV news service.

Iran International reports that a protocol officer from Raisi’s entourage attempted to wrest correspondent Kian Amani’s cellphone from his hands as the journalist filmed the Iranian president departing a midtown Manhattan hotel. Raisi was in New York City that week for the U.N. General Assembly.

Iran International posted a video of the encounter with footage from Amani’s phone and from another person, who recorded it from a different angle.

In Amani’s video, a man from Raisi’s delegation is seen approaching him while asking in Farsi why he is taking the video and demanding that he show his press credentials, according to a CNN account. Amani tells the man in English not to touch him and identifies himself as a journalist before a scuffle ensues.

In the other video, the assailant is seen attempting to pry Amani’s phone from his hands before a number of people, identified as hotel staff by Iran International, begin to intervene.

“Don’t touch him!” a woman said repeatedly to the man struggling physically with Amani. The scuffle ceased and the assailant departed from the scene.

The next day, Abram Paley, the U.S. State Department’s deputy special envoy for Iran, posted a statement condemning “the apparent harassment and intimidation of several journalists on US soil.”

A State Department official also told Iran International that they "have seen reports of threats, and assault on, an Iran International journalist by a member of the Iranian delegation. The behavior seen in the video footage is unacceptable."

A representative from Iran International contacted by the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker did not say if the incident was reported to police. The New York City Police Department also did not confirm if a report was filed. The State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].