Iranian intelligence accused of kidnapping plan | free press

In Iran, government critics are often jailed, leading many of them to flee abroad. But of course they also have to be on their guard there, according to a case in the US.

Washington (AP) – The New York prosecutor has charged four Iranian intelligence officials or informants with the planned kidnapping of an American human rights activist.

They wanted to kidnap the American woman of Iranian descent, who lives in Brooklyn, and kidnap her to Iran, where she was threatened with prosecution as a critic of the Iranian regime, the Justice Department said Tuesday (local time).

The four suspects are in Iran, it said. A fifth person living in California is said to have helped fund the venture. The federal police FBI thwarted the plan in time, it said. It is the right of American citizens to exercise freedom of speech and defend human rights – without fear of foreign intelligence, the prosecutor said.

“These allegations are so baseless and ridiculous that they are not even worth an answer,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Said Chatibsadeh said on Wednesday. The planned kidnapping of a person on the US payroll sounds like a “Hollywood-esque script,” the spokesman said, according to the Isna news agency.

The US Department of Justice has not named the person allegedly abducted. According to media reports, it was the author and activist Masih Alinejad. She also circulated several reports and comments through her verified Twitter account, identifying her as the target of the planned kidnapping. In a tweet, she later blamed the Iranian leadership under outgoing President Hassan Ruhani for this and for the kidnapping of other regime critics. Alinejad made her name as an investigative journalist in Iran before emigrating some 12 years ago.

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