(FiveNation.com)- An Iranian intelligence officer along with three other members of an Iranian intelligence network have been charged with attempting to carry out a rendition operation against a prominent Iranian opposition activist and journalist.
The plot was part of a wider to plan to lure three individuals in Canada and a fifth person residing in the UK back to Iran.
While the identities of the other four targets were not released, opposition activist Masih Alinejad of Brooklyn acknowledged on Twitter Tuesday night that the FBI informed her that she was one of the targets.
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
Neither the Iranian mission to the United Nations nor state media in Tehran have acknowledged the plot. But such kidnapping plots have become more common in recent years as Iran seeks to seize opposition journalists and dissidents living abroad.
In Monday’s indictment, authorities acknowledged other such rendition operations that have happened recently – including the kidnapping and execution of an exiled Paris-based Iranian journalist as well as a California-based Iranian opposition member who was abducted by Iran while staying in Dubai in 2020. In the indictment, prosecutors allege that the Iranian intelligence officer, Alireza Shahvaroghi Farahani – who remains at large — had an electronic device containing a graphic of Alinejad alongside those two men.
Masih Alinejad, who worked as a journalist for years within Iran, fled the country after the “Green Revolution” uprisings following the 2009 presidential election and crackdown. She has long been targeted by the Islamic regime. In 2019, Alinejad became in an American citizen. She has appeared on cable news as proponent of women’s right in the theocratic regime. Alinejad is also a prominent figure on Farsi-language satellite channels aboard that are critical of Iran. In 2015 she began working as a contractor for the US-funded Voice of America’s Farsi-language network.
Alinejad said authorities first came to her last year to tell her she was being watched and photos of her home were being taken. Since then, she has been living under US government protection, often spending time in various safe houses. During the investigation, the FBI had asked her to conduct a livestream video so they could see if Iranian intelligence was tracking her.
Saying that her choices are two options – feeling miserable or making her oppressors feel miserable, Alinejad said she chooses the second one.