US kidnapping plot claim ridiculous: Iran

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Iranian officials have rejected as “ridiculous and baseless” the United States’ claim that the government in Tehran was involved in plotting to kidnap a New York journalist and activist who was critical of the Islamic Republic.

“This new claim by the US government… is so baseless and ridiculous that it is not really worth answering,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.

A Justice Department indictment unsealed on Tuesday showed that US prosecutors have charged four Iranians, alleged to be intelligence operatives for Tehran, with plotting to kidnap the activist.

The indictment did not name the target of the plot but Reuters has confirmed that she is Iranian-US journalist Masih Alinejad.

“This is not the first time that the United States has undertaken such Hollywood scenarios,” Khatibzadeh said.

Iran’s intelligence services have in the past detained opposition figures and journalists abroad, including the 2020 arrest of Jamshid Sharmahd, a US-based leader of a pro-monarchist group that Iran has accused of being behind a deadly 2008 bombing and of plotting other attacks.

Iran did not say how or where Sharmahd, who is in jail in Iran, was detained.

In October 2019, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps said it had trapped Paris-based dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam in a “complex operation using intelligence deception”.

It did not say where the operation took place.

Zam, who was convicted of fomenting violence during anti-government protests in 2017, was executed in Iran in 2020.

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