A New York court has charged four Iranian intelligence officers who were allegedly preparing to kidnap an Iranian opposition activist and journalist from the US. According to the indictment, the plot was also part of a wider plan to kidnap critics of Iranian officials from Canada and Great Britain.
According to the AP agency, Iran was planning to kidnap three people living in Canada and a man from Great Britain. While prosecution documents do not reveal the identities of the potential victims, the Reuters agency identifies one of them as New York-based Masih Alinejad, a journalist and prominent Iranian opposition activist. She herself told the AP that she was on target.
According to the indictment, the group of conspirators, led by Iranian intelligence officer Alirez Shahvarogi Farahani, remains at large. Along with three other Iranian intelligence workers who were hiding from US services, he was supposed to plan to kidnap Masih Alinejad, an Iranian opposition journalist and activist who has been living in New York since at least July 2020. According to US investigators, the Iranians hired private spies to monitor, photograph and film Alinejad and his home. The spies are said to have fled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates to avoid repaying the debt. It was to be transported from New York by motorboat bound for Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. Alinejad is a US citizen since 2019 and works for Persian-language TV channels that are critical of Iranian government policies.
Earlier this year, according to Reuters, the FBI warned Alinejad that he could be abducted by Iranian intelligence and provided him with several safe hiding places. – I know the Islamic Republic of Iran has a habit of kidnapping, arresting, torturing and killing people, but I couldn’t believe this could happen to me in the United States – Masih Alinejad to AP Told. The journalist is known, among other things, for coordinating the campaign, which includes the publication of photographs by Iranians without hijabs on their heads, which in Iran are punished with fines or arrest.
If the four Iranians charged by the Americans are caught and convicted, they face life imprisonment. The Iranian mission to the United Nations – Iran has no embassy in Washington and the US has none in Tehran – has yet to comment on the matter.
Opposition Iranian journalists and dissidents have been kidnapped abroad in the past. As an example, the PA agency cites the kidnapping of a member of the Iranian government’s opposition in exile in California, who was abducted in 2020 – according to his family – in Dubai.
Main photo source: Toby Melville/Reuters/Forum
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