U.S. prosecutors have indicted three members of an Eastern European criminal gang linked to the Iranian government for conspiring to assassinate a U.S. citizen journalist and activist, Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday.
Rafat Amirov, Polad Omarov and Khalid Mehdiyev have been charged with murder for hire and money laundering for their involvement in a thwarted Tehran-backed conspiracy, the Justice Department said in a statement.
“The victim announced [the] The Iranian government’s representation and use of human rights violations, discriminatory treatment of women, suppression of democratic participation, arbitrary imprisonment, torture and execution,” Garland said.
“This activity posed such a threat to the Iranian government that the Chief Justice of Iran’s Revolutionary Court warned that anyone who sent a video criticizing the regime to a victim would be sentenced to prison.”
Garland did not name the victim, but Mehdiev was arrested in New York last year. Journalist Massy Alinejad holds a rifle outside his Brooklyn homea longtime critic of Iran’s head covering laws, has promoted videos of women violating these laws on social media.
Mehdiyev pleaded not guilty to one count of possessing a de-serialized firearm. He is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn pending trial.
Iran’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
2021 U.S. Prosecutor Indicted four Iranians alleged to be Tehran intelligence agents for plotting kidnapping New York-based journalist and activist. The target of the conspiracy has not been identified, but Reuters has confirmed that she is Alinejad.
Amiroff was arrested Thursday and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing in federal court in Manhattan on Friday. Omarov was arrested in the Czech Republic earlier this month and the US is seeking his extradition.
In 2011, the United States arrested a man allegedly involved in an Iranian conspiracy to assassinate the then-Saudi ambassador to Washington.
Washington accuses Tehran of supporting terrorism and pursuing nuclear weapons, something Iran denies.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jan/27/iran-backed-assassination-attempt-journalist-charges Three Iranians Indicted in Iran-backed Conspiracy to Assassinate Journalist in US