The American justice announced, Tuesday, July 13, to have indicted four ‘Iranian intelligence agents’ for having planned the kidnapping of an American reporter of Iranian origin in the United States, which Tehran denies.
The four men had been seeking since ‘June 2020’ to kidnap ‘an author and journalist who has exposed human rights violations committed by the Iranian government,’ the US Department of Justice said in a report. communicated . They had planned ‘to take their victim by force to Iran, where (his) fate would have been uncertain at best,’ said prosecutor Audrey Strauss.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney announces kidnapping conspiracy charges against an Iranian intelligence officer and members of an Iranian intelligence network https://t.co/26n3II71Zz @FBI @NewYorkFBI pic.twitter.com/mfYYhHffYm
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) July 13, 2021
The suspects ‘used the services of private investigators to monitor, photograph and film’ the victim and his relatives, ‘on several occasions’ between 2020 and 2021, according to the ministry.
Officers had been looking for a way to transport the reporter out of the United States, with one inquiring about speedboats offering ‘autonomous marine evacuation’ from New York, and a boat trip between New York. and Venezuela, a country which maintains ‘friendly relations with Iran’.
Masih Alinejad is a feminist activist behind the anti-veiling movement in Iran, a country she has since left. From the United States, where she has settled, she criticizes the Iranian regime and its policies, and has received the support of stars such as Meryl Streep, whom she had joined on stage at a conference on human rights. women, in 2016.
‘In the eyes of the Iranian regime, any woman who fights for her fundamental rights is a criminal,’ she said last April in a video message to the Swedish Parliament.
‘Thanks to the FBI for foiling the Iranian intelligence plan to kidnap me,’ she said on Twitter, filming herself in front of a window from which a police car can be seen. According to her, the latter has been parked in front of her home for two weeks.
I am grateful to FBI for foiling the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Intelligence Ministry’s plot to kidnap me. This plot was orchestrated under Rouhani.
This is the regime that kidnapped & executed Ruhollah Zam. They’ve also kidnapped and jailed Jamshid Sharmahd and many others pic.twitter.com/HUefdEbiil
– Masih Alinejad ️ (@AlinejadMasih) July 14, 2021
This network, discovered by the FBI, also targeted other victims living in particular ‘in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates’, against whom they had tried to deploy the same means of surveillance, according to prosecutors.
The four agents are Alireza Shavaroghi Farahani, Mahmoud Khazein, Kiya Sadeghi and Omid Noori. An Iranian resident in California, Niloufar Bahadorifar, is suspected of having participated in the financing of this project.
‘Absurd and unfounded’ accusations
The White House officially reacted on Wednesday July 14. ‘We categorically condemn Iran’s alleged dangerous and contemptible attempt to kidnap an American citizen on American soil,’ White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a press briefing.
For its part, Iran on Wednesday deemed these accusations ‘absurd and unfounded’. ‘This is not the first time that the United States has engaged in the creation of these Hollywood scenarios,’ Iranian Foreign Affairs spokesman Said Khatibzadeh said.
‘The American authorities insult the intelligence of the world with this naive story’, he added, quoted by the Isna agency.
Iran is considered one of the most repressive countries for journalists, and exercises ‘relentless’ information control according to the NGO Reporters Without Borders, which placed it 174th out of 180 in its ranking freedom of the press in 2021.