Iran Plotted to Kidnap Brooklyn Resident, Say Feds

4 Iranian operatives charged with conspiring to abduct journalist Masih Alinejad
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 14, 2021 12:59 AM CDT
Updated Jul 14, 2021 5:48 AM CDT
Iran Kidnapping Plot Targeted US Citizen
In this July 13, 2005, file photo, outgoing reformist Iranian President Mohammad Khatami talks on the phone with the mother of female journalist Masih Alinejad, right, after meeting with journalists in Tehran, Iran.   (AP Photo/Hasan Sarbakhshian, File)

Feds say they intervened in an international scheme to abduct an Iranian-American journalist who is now a citizen and resident of the US. Though prosecutors didn't name the target, Masih Alinejad confirmed to the New York Times that it was her. Known for criticizing the Iranian government, Alinejad said last August that the government was calling for her kidnapping in a social media campaign. She fled the country in 2009 after threats and other troubles related to articles criticizing then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and currently lives in Brooklyn. She tells Reuters she was in a state of shock after learning of the plot eight months ago, and that she doesn't feel safe even in the US.

Prosecutors charged four Iranians with conspiring to kidnap the journalist, author, and activist, in what the authorities say was a plan orchestrated by an Iranian intelligence network. One suspect, Alireza Shavaroghi Farahani, is an Iranian intelligence official and the other three are described as Iranian intelligence assets. A fifth person was also arrested in California on suspicion of supporting the plot. Prosecutors say the group used private investigators to spy on Alinejad and members of her household, and her own home, as they planned to lure her to a third country, where they would abduct her and take her to Iran. Similar plans have been successful with other activists in recent years. (An FBI official acknowledged the scheme "is not some far-fetched movie plot.")

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