US law enforcement has foiled an attempt by Iranian intelligence agents to kidnap activists, and has indicted four Iranian nationals with several conspiracy charges, the Justice Department announced on July 13.
Masih Alinejad, the targeted activist who worked for years as a journalist in Iran, long has been targeted by its theocracy after fleeing the country following its disputed 2009 presidential election and crackdown.
The Justice Department said in its statement that since January the Iranian intelligence team was planning to kidnap Alinejad and take her to Venezuela, a close ally of Iran in the Western hemisphere. The team studied ways to use a speedboat to take the victim through the sea to Caracas.
Alinejad said in an interview, “Around eight months ago the FBI told me that I am not safe in my own house and should move into a safehouse, but I did not take it seriously until the FBI produced photos of me and my family, showing that we were all under surveillance.
Press Secretary Jen Psaki called the Iranian plan a “dangerous and despicable reported plot” and said the Biden administration would continue to speak out against Iran’s attempts “to silence those peacefully working to address the situation both inside Iran and outside of Iran that are appalling.”
An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Wednesday that accusations by U.S. authorities that Iran is plotting to kidnap activists abroad who criticized the country are “baseless and ridiculous.”
In 2019, a Paris-based Iranian dissident journalist named Ruhollah Zam was enticed by Iranian intelligence agents to travel to Iraq, where he was kidnapped and taken to Iran. He was executed last year after being convicted of sedition charges.
In a time when Iran’s poverty, crime, inflation, unemployment and covid-19 fatality rates are at an all-time high, the Islamic Republic continues to spend millions and billions of dollars on funding terrorist groups across the region and kidnapping activists abroad.
After the revelation, an Iranian journalist writes “With the money the Islamic Republic spent to abduct Masih Alinejad, it could have purchased 150,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.”