According to the Justice Department’s indictment, US prosecutors charged four Iranians, allegedly intelligence agents, of conspiring to kidnap a New York reporter who criticized Tehran.
Although the indictment unsealed on Tuesday did not specify the target of the conspiracy, Reuters has confirmed that the person is Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad, He contributed to the Persian language service of the Voice of America (VOA) and reported on human rights issues in Iran.
Reuters requested confirmation that Alinejad was the target of the conspiracy, and the Department of Justice (DoJ) declined to comment.
According to the indictment, the four Iranians used false excuses to hire private investigators to monitor the anonymous reporter in Brooklyn and to videotape the victim’s family and residence as part of a conspiracy to take the person out of the country. Part.
Audrey Strauss, an American lawyer in the Southern District of New York, stated that the four defendants planned to “forcibly bring their intended victims to Iran, where the fate of the victims is uncertain at best.”
In a statement posted on its website, the U.S. Department of Justice identified the suspect as Alireza Shavaroghi Farahani, also known as Vezerat Salimi and Haj Ali, 50; Mahmoud Hazan, 42; Kiya Sadeghi, 35 Years old; and 45-year-old Omid Noori, they are both Iranians.
According to the indictment, Farahani is an Iranian intelligence officer living in Iran. Khazein, Sadeghi and Noori are members of the Iranian intelligence service. They also live in Iran and work under Farahani. Allegedly, they started planning to kidnap the journalist at least in June 2020.
Allen Kohler Jr., assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence unit, said that the Iranian government “instructed some state actors” to carry out the kidnapping.
“We will use all the tools at our disposal to actively investigate the foreign activities of agents who plot to kidnap American citizens, because the Iranian government does not agree with the victims’ criticism of the regime.”
California resident Niloufar Bahadorifar, also known as Nellie Bahadorifar, 46 years old, allegedly provided financial services in support of the conspiracy.
This is not the first time Iranian agents have been accused of hunting down Iranian dissidents.
In December 2020, Turkey arrested 11 people suspected of kidnapping and smuggling to Iran An Iranian dissident is wanted for a deadly attack in southwestern Iran in 2018.
According to a senior Turkish official, the Iranian-Arab separatist leader Habib Chaab was drugged by a network “working on behalf of Iranian intelligence” after being lured to fly to Turkey by an Iranian intelligence agent And kidnapped.
The United States also claimed that Iranian diplomats were behind the killing of Iranian dissident Masoud Molavi Vardanjani in Istanbul, Turkey in November 2019. Two senior Turkish officials told Reuters that the killing was instigated by two intelligence officials from the Iranian consulate in the country’s largest city.
On Tuesday, after the indictment was announced, Alinejad, also known as Masoumeh Alinejad, said she was in a state of shock.
She said she has been cooperating with the FBI since she was contacted by the FBI through photos taken by the conspirators eight months ago.
“They told me that the Islamic Republic is very close,” she said.
U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan announce conspiracy charges against Iranian intelligence officials and members of the Iranian intelligence network https://t.co/26n3II71Zz@FBI @New York FBI pic.twitter.com/mfYYhHffYm
-US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) July 13, 2021
Ali Nejad said that she angered Iran by propagating Iranian women’s protests against the law requiring the wearing of headscarves, as well as the claims of Iranians who lost their lives in demonstrations in 2019.
Alinejad said that FBI agents moved her and her husband to a series of safe houses while investigating the case.
She said she still could not read the indictment.
“I can’t believe I’m not even safe in the United States,” she said.
In addition to serving as the “anchor, writer, and reporter” for VOA Persian services, the Quincy Institute also recognized Alinejad as a US government contractor.
According to the Quincy Institute, a think tank based in Washington, DC, Irene Nejad was reportedly awarded a contract of more than $305,000 for work at VOA Persia between May 2015 and September 10, 2019.
News of the conspiracy also came when Iran announced on Tuesday that it was holding talks. Swap prisoners with the U.S. It aims to ensure the release of Iranians detained in US prisons and other countries for violating US sanctions.
Iranian government spokesperson Ali Rabie said: “Negotiations on the exchange of prisoners between Iran and the United States are underway. If Iranian prisoners are released, national interests are protected and negotiations are reached, we will release more information.”