Four Iranian intelligence operatives have been charged with plotting to kidnap a Brooklyn journalist, author, and human rights activist who has been a vocal critic of the Iranian regime, federal prosecutors said on Tuesday.
The four operatives charged are Alireza Shavaroghi Farahani, Mahmoud Khazein, Kiya Sadeghi, and Omid Noori. A fifth person, Niloufar Bahadorifar, has been accused of providing financial support to the operatives. Farahani, Khazein, Sadeghi, and Noori all live in Iran and Bahadorifar resides in California; she was arrested on July 1. Prosecutors said in court documents that over the last two years, Iranian intelligence officers have been successful in getting Iranians who live in other countries to go to places where they can be captured, and once they are sent back to Iran, they are imprisoned and executed.
The court documents did not reveal the name of the person the operatives were allegedly planning to abduct and bring back to Iran, but Masih Alinejad told NBC News she was the focus of the operation, saying that she's been "targeted for a number of years, but this is the first time that such an audacious plot has been hatched and foiled." Alinejad has criticized the Iranian government for its human rights abuses and mandatory dress codes for women. She left Iran in 2009.
Alinejad tweeted that she was "grateful" to the FBI for "foiling the Islamic Republic of Iran's Intelligence Ministry's plot to kidnap me. This plot was orchestrated under [Iranian President Hassan] Rouhani." Last year, Alinejad wrote in The Washington Post that she had been notified that the Iranian government wanted her returned to the country, and while it was "horrifying," it wasn't "entirely unexpected. The regime has tried many forms of intimidation to silence me over the years."