Iranian Operatives Charged in Plot to Kidnap a Brooklyn Author Masih Alinejad

Iranian Operatives Charged in Plot to Kidnap a Brooklyn Author Masih Alinejad...
nytimes.com 14/07/2021 News

Keywords:#2015, #2020, #Alireza_Shavaroghi_Farahani, #American, #Arab, #Attorney_General, #Brooklyn, #California, #Canada, #Congress, #Emirates, #Export, #F.B.I, #FBI, #Farsi, #First_Amendment, #Human_Rights, #International_Emergency_Economic_Powers_Act, #Iran, #Iranian, #Iraq, #Kiya_Sadeghi, #Mahmoud_Khazein, #Manhattan, #Masih, #Masih_Alinejad, #New_York, #New_York_City, #Niloufar_Bahadorifar, #Nytimes.com, #Omid_Noori, #Persian, #President, #Syria, #Task_Force, #Tehran, #United_Arab_Emirates, #United_Kingdom, #United_States, #Venezuela

Masih Alinejad spoke critically of her native country’s autocracy. Now an Iranian intelligence official and three others have been indicted in New York.
By Benjamin Weiser
July 13, 2021
An Iranian American journalist living in Brooklyn who has been a sharp critic of the Iranian government was the target of an international kidnapping plot orchestrated by an intelligence network in Iran, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
In an indictment unsealed in federal court in Manhattan, four Iranians were charged with conspiring to kidnap the journalist and author, Masih Alinejad.
Ms. Alinejad was not identified by prosecutors, but confirmed in an interview that she was the intended target of the plot. Last year, Ms. Alinejad wrote in a newspaper article that Iranian government officials had unleashed a social media campaign calling for her abduction.
The four defendants all live in Iran and remain at large, the prosecutors said, identifying one of them, Alireza Shavaroghi Farahani, 50, as an Iranian intelligence official and the three others as “Iranian intelligence assets.” A fifth defendant, accused of supporting the plot but not participating in the kidnapping conspiracy, was arrested in California.
The indictment describes a plot that included attempts to lure Ms. Alinejad, an American citizen, to a third country to capture her and forcibly render her to Iran. The intelligence official, Mr. Farahani, and his network used private investigators to surveil, photograph and video record Ms. Alinejad and members of her household in Brooklyn, the government said.
The extensive surveillance that Mr. Farahani’s network procured included the use of a live, high-definition video feed depicting Ms. Alinejad’s home, prosecutors said.
...
“This is not some far-fetched movie plot,” William F. Sweeney Jr., the head of the F.B.I.’s New York office, said in a statement.
Audrey Strauss, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, said, “A U.S. citizen living in the United States must be able to advocate for human rights without being targeted by foreign intelligence operatives.”
The indictment comes at a precarious moment in the fraught relationship between the United States and Iran.
President Biden late last month ordered airstrikes against Iranian-backed militias in Syria and Iraq, telling Congress that he acted to defend American military personnel and deter Iranian attacks. At the same time, the two countries are working toward a resurrection of a 2015 deal to limit Iran’s nuclear power.
Ms. Alinejad, who hosts a program called “Tablet” on Voice of America Persian, a U.S. government-owned broadcaster, has been harshly critical of the nuclear deal.
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