July 26, 2021

Iran accused of kidnapping attempt against US opponent

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have escalated. American justice accused, Tuesday, July 13, agents of the Islamic Republic of Iran of having planned the kidnapping in the United States of the journalist and Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad. The latter has been the target of harassment on the Internet since she launched, in 2014, a campaign against the wearing of the compulsory veil in Iran.

Wanted notices have been issued against four Iranians, including an intelligence ministry agent, who are believed to be in Iran. A woman of Iranian origin, living in California, was also arrested and then released on bail. She is accused of having participated in the financing of the alleged kidnapping project, including by hiring private detectives to monitor and film Mr.me Alinejad and her relatives in the Brooklyn neighborhood, where the latter lives in New York, from June 2020.

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According to information revealed by the American justice system, the four Iranian agents had studied different means to get Masih Alinejad out of the United States, in particular the use of a fast boat between New York and Venezuela, a close ally of Tehran. Iranian intelligence agents had also, according to American justice, exerted pressure on his relatives in 2018, to convince her to go to a third country – like Turkey -, with the aim of kidnapping him there before the death. transfer to Iran.

Several opponents kidnapped

This plan failed because the journalist had been informed of the kidnapping plan by her brother, Alireza. The latter was subsequently arrested by Iranian services in the north of the country and sentenced to eight years in prison. Following the failure of this plot, Tehran would have, says American justice, decided to monitor the activist in the United States with a view to her kidnapping. On the Persian-speaking channel BBC Persian, Masih Alinejad explained that he had been warned of the threats against her by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), a few months ago. She was placed in a protected residence for a while.

This is not the Islamic Republic’s first feat of arms. Several Iranian opponents have been kidnapped in neighboring countries. In 2019, dissident Rouhollah Zam, a political refugee in France, was kidnapped in Iraq and transferred to Iran. He was sentenced to death and executed there at the end of 2020 for his role in the anti-regime protests in the winter of 2017-2018.

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