Four charged in NY journalist kidnap plot

U.S. prosecutors have charged four Iranians, alleged to be intelligence operatives for Tehran.

They're accused of plotting to kidnap a New York journalist and human rights activist who was critical of Iran.

That's according to a Justice Department indictment unsealed on Tuesday (July 14).

Prosecutors said the Iranian operatives had researched how they might spirit the journalist out of New York on a high-speed boat headed for Caracas.

Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad contributed to the U.S. government-funded Voice of America Persian language service and reports on human rights issues in Iran.

Here she shows her twitter followers the police outside her apartment.

"The police have been around my own for the past two weeks now. When I asked them why they were here they told me it was to protect me. This is also what the FBI told me. They said they'd tell me later, but that the police has to be here often. They are here from 5 a.m. to midnight. I'm so not used to being protected by the police. Every time I see them, I assume it's to arrest me. Yes, I'm also worried. I see them often, even when I get out to check on my flowers in my garden. But it imbues me with a feeling of safety when I see the police protect me. This wouldn't have happened in my homeland. It's a weird feeling."

U.S. authorities said in recent years, Iranian intelligence officers have tricked a number of overseas activists to travel to destinations where they were kidnapped and sent back to Iran.

In 2019, Iranian intelligence officers lured Ruhollah Zam, a journalist living in France, out of the country, capturing and later executing him in Iran on sedition charges.

Reuters reached Alinejad after the indictment was released, she said she was in a state of shock.

She said she had been working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation since the agency approached her eight months ago with photographs taken by the plotters.

She said the Islamic Republic had gotten very close.

Iran rejected the claims as "ridiculous and baseless".

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