Four Iranian citizens were charged Tuesday with conspiring to kidnap a journalist in New York and illegally taking her to Iran, possibly even via Venezuela, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) said. Without being named by the statement, the American journalist and activist Still Alinejad, of Iranian descent and outspoken critic of the Tehran government, confirmed on Twitter that she was the target of the alleged plot.
“I thank the FBI for thwarting the plot of the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Iran to kidnap me,” he said, filming himself next to a window where a police car can be seen. «This plot was orchestrated by (the government of) Rohani“He added, referring to Iranian President Hasan Rohani, seen as a moderate.
Alinejad is also the founder of the “My Stealthy Freedom” movement, which encourages women to remove their hijab, the Muslim headscarf.
Of the four men named in the indictment, one is an Iranian intelligence official and the other three work under him, according to a DoJ statement, adding that they all live in Iran. According to the DoJ, the Iranians first they tried to force relatives of the kidnapping target, whom he calls Victim-1, to lure her to a third country to arrest her and then take her to Iran and imprison her.
They then went on to monitor the victim and other members of his household in Brooklyn, New York, “on multiple occasions in 2020 and 2021,” he added. The agents hired private investigators to “monitor, photograph and record” their target, according to the indictment. They also investigated how to get Alinejad from the United States to Iran. One of the men evaluated routes from the journalist’s home to a coastal neighborhood in Brooklyn, while another inquired about a “service that provided military-style speedboats for an autonomous maritime evacuation operation outside of Manhattan,” the DoJ detailed. They also looked at ways to get Victim-1 from New York by sea to Venezuela, which has close ties to Tehran.