LONDON: Leading rights group Human Rights Watch (HRW) has warned that an alleged plot this week by four Iranians to kidnap a dissident journalist living in New York has heightened concerns about Tehran’s efforts to target its nationals and critics abroad.
On July 13, the US Justice Department indicted the four Iranian nationals at a New York federal court, which said that the four men allegedly “conspired to kidnap a Brooklyn journalist, author and human rights activist for mobilizing public opinion in Iran and around the world to bring about changes to the regime’s laws and practices.”
Sources, and the target herself, have claimed that journalist and regime critic Masih Alinejad was the intended target of the alleged kidnapping attempt this week.
Michael Page, deputy Middle East director at HRW, said: “For decades Iranian authorities have deployed vicious tactics to harass, intimidate and harm Iranian activists living abroad.
“Iran’s security agencies have now allegedly attempted to kidnap another high-profile dissident to dragoon back to Iran and face serious abuses.”
Alinejad has been subjected to extensive targeted harassment and intimidation by various Iranian state agencies, including the state broadcasting agency.
The activist and journalist has said that Tehran has repeatedly targeted her family, including attempts to convince her to return to the region and countries neighboring Iran.
Last July, the Center for Human Rights in Iran said that an Iranian court had sentenced Ali, her brother, to five years in prison for “assembly and collusion against national security.”
In addition to this charge, Ali Alinejad was sentenced to two years for “insulting the Supreme Leader,” and one year for “propaganda against the state.”
His lawyer said that sections of Ali’s hearing were focused on his sister’s journalism and campaigning efforts.
“However the Alinejad case plays out, Iranian authorities are doubtlessly determined to silence dissent and spread fear among outspoken critics outside the country,” Page said.