NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Authorities are investigating an alleged kidnapping plot designed to seize an Iranian American journalist living in New York.
Masih Alinejad has been an outspoken advocate for women’s rights, and a critic of human rights abuses in her native country. Prosecutors say Iranian intelligence agents tried to lure her away from her home in Brooklyn, CBS2’s Mary Calvi reported Wednesday.READ MORE: Justice Department Says Russians Hacked Federal Prosecutors
The Iranian American journalist posted a video to Twitter. In the background you can make out a patrol car guarding Alinejad’s home. Her police protection is in place for good reason. Federal authorities say she is the target of an international kidnapping plot, allegedly connected to the Islamic Republic.
“I was like, wow, so the Islamic Republic is that close to me, even here in Brooklyn,” Alinejad said.
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
From her home in the Big Apple, Alinejad is making an impact in Iran. She has gained millions of followers, by posting Iranian women defying the regime. She’s highly critical of the government and even wrote about a possible kidnapping plot in a Washington Post article last year.
“The government in Iran — they’re scared of me. It gives me hope that the government is scared of the voice of people because I’m the voice of people,” Alinejad said.
Five Iranian men have been charged with “conspiring to kidnap,” according to an indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday.READ MORE: Biden Administration Says National Eviction Moratorium Will Expire Saturday
The Department of Justice alleges Iran directed a plot to kidnap a U.S.-based journalist and American citizen, with the intent to lure our citizen back to Iran as retaliation for their freedom of expression.
Alinejad confirmed she is that American citizen.
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
According to the indictment, the suspects planned to kidnap the journalist and transport her to Venezuela, a country friendly to the Tehran regime, and from there to Iran.
Four men remain at large. One is in custody.
“If they arrest me or kill me, they cannot get keep the Iranian people silent,” Alinejad said.
She added even a kidnapping plot will not stop her from speaking out.MORE NEWS: Residents Begin To Clean Up, Assess Damage After 2 Tornadoes Touch Down In Bucks County Leaving Path Of Destruction
A spokesperson for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said the accusations are baseless and ridiculous.