Wednesday, August 4

US accuses four Iranian spies of trying to kidnap an opposition journalist in New York

“The police have been near my house for two weeks. When I asked them why they are here, they told me it was to protect me. They have been there since five in the morning. It gives me security when I see that they protect me. This would not have happened in my country “, says the Iranian activist and journalist Masih Alinejad in a video published this Wednesday in which the police can be seen from the window of the house.

Hours before that video, the Justice Department announced the indictment of four Iranian intelligence agents for attempting to kidnap an Iranian journalist and activist named “victim-1” in the document. Alinejad assures that she is that “victim-1”. “I am grateful to the FBI for having foiled the Iranian intelligence plot to kidnap me. This plot was orchestrated under the mandate of [el expresidente] Rohaní, “published Alinejad.

“As noted in the indictment, four of the defendants watched and planned to kidnap an American citizen of Iranian origin who has been critical of the regime and thus forcibly send her to Iran, where her fate would have been unsafe at best. cases, “says New York prosecutor Audrey Strauss.

According to the US investigation, the team of four agents had been planning to kidnap the journalist since June 2020. The spies proposed to take the victim by motorboat and take her to Venezuela, “a country whose de facto government has friendly relations with Iran.” Investigators say the Iranian team has already carried out operations abroad against other victims, including in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.

Before this latest kidnapping attempt, the Government of Iran tried to lure “victim-1” to a third country to capture her there and then send her to Iran, since that would be easier than trying to do it in the US. “In 2018, Iranian officials tried to induce the relatives of ‘victim-1’, who reside in Iran, to invite her to travel to a third country with the apparent purpose of her being arrested,” says the press release issued by the Department of Justice.

The leader of the Iranian team carried on an electronic device a photo of his target along with two other people, who were in third countries but were finally detained in Iran – one of them was executed. The image was accompanied by the following phrase: “Little by little the meeting gets bigger … are you coming or are we going to get you?”

The four officers are charged with attempted kidnapping, with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment; violation of the sanctions, the maximum penalty of which is 20 years; conspiracy to commit bank fraud, 30 years; and money laundering, 20 years. A fifth person is accused of collaborating and financially helping the team.

“I do not want to say that they are afraid of me because my job is simply to give people a voice. I ask people to be their spokesperson and I have five million followers on Instagram and one million on Facebook,” Alinejad said this Wednesday in an interview with CNN. “That’s all I do.”

Alinejad currently works for the Persian section of Voice of America and has been especially noted for her activism against the imposition of mandatory veiling in Iran, as well as for women’s rights. “This is the nature of the Islamic republic, to kidnap its dissidents and execute them,” the journalist denounced this Wednesday.

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