Iranian agents prepare to kidnap prominent Iranian journalist and women’s rights activist Masih Alinejad from New York, where she lives in exile. Federal prosecutors in New York confirmed Tuesday that four Iranian agents, including an Iranian intelligence official, have been charged in absentia in connection with the case.
Although Alinejad (44) was not mentioned by name in the indictment, she told various media that she had heard from the US judiciary that the kidnapping plans were directed against her. “They showed me how close the Islamic Republic is,” she told Reuters news agency. Alinejad, a US citizen since 2019, said he was shocked. “I can’t believe I’m not even safe in America.”
According to the indictment issued in New York, Iranian agents have been spying on Alinejad, her husband and daughter for some time by private investigators. They told investigators that Alinejad fled Dubai to avoid paying debts. It is alleged that they planned to transport Alinejad from New York port by speedboat to Venezuela, Iran’s ally, and from there to Iran.
This is not the first time that Iran has attempted to kidnap critics of the regime in Tehran. In 2019, journalist Ruhollah Zam was lured from Paris to Iraq under false pretenses. There he was arrested and taken to Iran. He was executed late last year.
Even before she left Iran in 2009, Alinejad was known for her boldness to criticize the regime. She gained even more fame in 2014 with the online campaign “My Hidden Freedom”. In addition, Iranian women have shown themselves online without the hated headscarf that has been mandatory in Iran since 1979. The campaign has been a thorn in the side of religious leaders who hate women who do not wear headscarves. On the other hand, many women see the veil as a symbol of women’s oppression. Many women in Iran who took off their headscarves in public as part of the process ended up in prison.
family in Iran
According to New York prosecutors, Iranian agents also called Alinejad’s relatives in Iran to lure her to Iran, but the family made it clear that they were not happy. Alinejad herself also said that Iran had tried several times to deliver it to Turkey.
The indictment comes at a sensitive time. Iran and the United States are still holding indirect negotiations in Vienna on the resumption of the 2015 international nuclear treaty, under which Iran pledged to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Read also: A short history of the hijab in Iran
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