Four charged with plot to kidnap New York-based Iranian journalist

Four Iranian nationals were charged Tuesday with conspiracy to kidnap a journalist in New York, the Justice Department said.

US-based journalist and activist Masih Alinejad, of Iranian descent and an outspoken critic of the Tehran government, appeared to confirm on Twitter that she was the target of the alleged plot.

Alinejad also founded the My Stealthy Freedom movement, which encourages women to take off their hijabs.

The four men named in the indictment are an Iranian intelligence official and three assets working under him, according to a statement from the Justice Department. It says they all live in Iran.

A fifth co-conspirator in California is accused of financing the alleged operation.

According to the Justice Department, the intelligence officers had first tried to lure the kidnapping target, named Victim-1, to a third country to be arrested and taken to Iran to be imprisoned there.

They then went on to monitor the victim and other members of her Brooklyn, New York household “several times in 2020 and 2021,” the Justice Department statement said.

It claimed that one of the men was investigating how to get Victim-1 from the United States to Iran.

Although the ministry does not name Victim-1, Alinejad, who is known for her outspoken criticism of the Iranian government and its policies, appeared to identify herself as the target of the alleged plot on Twitter.

She retweeted posts mentioning the alleged victim and replied “Thank you” to a tweet referring to the Justice Department’s charges.

“Everyone in the United States must be free from intimidation, threats and physical harm from foreign powers,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Mark Lesko said in a statement from the Justice Department.

(AFP)

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