Four Iranian intelligence operatives have been charged with plotting to kidnap a New York-based Iranian-American journalist, the United States Justice Department revealed.
“[They] conspired to kidnap a Brooklyn journalist, author, and human rights activist for mobilizing public opinion in Iran and around the world to bring about changes to the regime’s laws and practices,” read the Justice Department’s news release.
The Iranians indicted on kidnapping conspiracy charges are:
- Alireza Shavaroghi Farahani, aka Vezerat Salimi and Haj Ali, 50
- Mahmoud Khazein, 42
- Kiya Sadeghi, 35
- Omid Noori, 45
According to Reuters, the journalist, Masih Alinejad, is vocal about Iran’s human rights violations and has contributed to the U.S. government-funded Voice of America Farsi-language service as well as various reports on human rights issues in Iran.
Speaking to the news agency, Alinejad said she was in shock.
Fortunately, the FBI approached her 8 months ago warning her about the kidnapping plan. She and her husband were moved to different safe houses while the case was being investigated.
The FBI also showed her photographs taken by the plotters, who had hired private investigators to surveil, photograph, and video record Alinejad and her house members.
“They showed me the Islamic Republic had gotten very close,” she told Reuters.
Assistant Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division said that the operation was an intention to “lure” the journalist back to Iran “as retaliation for their freedom of expression.”
It is reportedly not the first time Iranian intelligence operatives use this tactic.