US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a US journalist of Iranian descent who was targeted by what the Justice Department described as an Iranian kidnapping plot “showed extraordinary courage.”
Blinken tweeted Monday (20/7) that he spoke with Masih Alinejad, host of the Persian-language VOA TV show and a critic of the Iranian government.
“I reiterate that the US will always support the work of independent journalists that is so much needed around the world,” Blinken tweeted. “We will not tolerate attempts to intimidate or silence their voices.”
Alinejad said he and Blinken spoke for 15 minutes, and Blinken stated that the idea of Iran to kidnap him from US soil was “terrible.”
“Minister Blinken said the Biden administration takes the threat of the Islamic Republic very seriously and is aware of how the Tehran regime targets dissidents in the US and in Europe,” Alinejad tweeted. “He assured me that the US would hold the regime accountable for this plan.”
Last week, the US Justice Department said a New York federal court disclosed charges accusing five Iranian nationals of involvement in an alleged plot to kidnap a “Brooklyn journalist, writer and human rights activist for mobilizing public opinion in Iran and around the world to bring about changes to the law.” the Iranian regime’s laws and practices.” The Ministry of Justice press release did not name the target of the kidnapping plot.
Alinejad, who lives in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, later confirmed on her social media accounts that she was the target person.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh dismissed the US accusations, stating in comments published in Iranian state media that “it are baseless and ridiculous accusations that do not deserve a response.”
Alinejad worked as a journalist in Iran in the 2000s. He wrote articles exposing corruption and mismanagement of the government until the authorities revoked his press card and threatened his arrest. He fled Iran in 2009, first to the UK, before settling in New York in 2014. [uh/ab]