- Four Iranian spies have been charged with plotting to kidnap journalist and author Masih Alinejad, 44
- Alinejad has frequently criticized the regime in Tehran for human rights abuses and fled the country in 2009
- She said that she had been informed of an ‘audacious’ plot to snatch her and police were outside her door
- The plotters, all of whom are in Iran, intended to lure her to a third country and then take her to Tehran
- The spies were monitoring her home in Brooklyn and had installed a live feed showing her house
New York City prosecutors have charged four Iranian spies with plotting to kidnap a U.S. journalist from Brooklyn, smuggling her out of the city on a speedboat then sailing down to Venezuela before flying to Tehran, after she criticized the regime for its human rights abuses.
Masih Alinejad, 44, a producer with Voice of America, told NBC News that she was the target of the plot. She was not named in court documents.
The conspirators, described as intelligence officials, had also plotted to lure a person in the UK and three others in Canada to Iran, an indictment said. They had all also been critical of Iran.
William F. Sweeney Jr., the head of the F.B.I.’s New York office, said: ‘This is not some far-fetched movie plot. We allege a group, backed by the Iranian government, conspired to kidnap a US-based journalist here on our soil and forcibly return her to Iran. Not on our watch.’
A federal indictment describes a plot that included attempts to lure Alinejad to Venezuela to capture her, and forcibly render her to Iran. The Iranians had a live feed of her home.
The Iranians researched how to get the author out of New York, according to the charging documents. One of the four researched a service offering ‘military-style speedboats for self-operated maritime evacuation out of New York City, and maritime travel from New York to Venezuela, a country whose de facto government has friendly relations with Iran,’ the Justice Department said.
Alireza Shahvaroghi Farahani is described in charging documents as the spy chief. He worked with Mahmoud Khazein and Omid Noori plus Kiya Sadeghi. They all live in Iran and remain at large.
‘I’ve been targeted for a number of years but this is the first time that such an audacious plot has been hatched and foiled,’ she told NBC by email.
View her Twitter link here: https://twitter.com/AlinejadMasih/status/1415115191084322816
Jason Brodsky, a senior analyst at Iran International, called it a ‘major case’.
‘The Iranian regime is being accused by the Justice Department of hatching a plot to kidnap a US citizen of Iranian origin,’ he told The National.
‘This is a tactic that the Islamic Republic has employed before.’
He pointed to the past cases of activist Ruhollah Zam — who was lured from France to Iraq, then kidnapped, taken to Iran, and later executed; and Habib Chaab who was kidnapped in Turkey by the Iranian regime.