The Movement to End Transnational Repression

The Movement to End Transnational Repression
Candles lit by activists protesting the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi are placed outside Saudi Arabia’s consulate, in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 25, 2018 (AP photo by Lefteris Pitarakis).

When FBI agents first showed up at Masih Alinejad’s Brooklyn home to warn her that she was the target of an Iranian state-backed kidnapping plot, she was incredulous at first. As a journalist and outspoken critic of the regime in Tehran, she is accustomed to threats and harassment. But the brazenness of the plot was startling.

“What surprised me is the fact that the regime felt confident enough to resort to kidnapping me here, on American soil,” Alinejad told me in a direct message on Twitter. “I used to think I was safe here.” 

According to an indictment unsealed earlier this month, four Iranian nationals connected to the regime’s intelligence apparatus allegedly hired a private investigator to collect information on Alinejad while researching ways to lure her to a third country, where she could be captured or arrested and taken to Iran for imprisonment. While the FBI was able to intervene, the plot nonetheless upended Alinejad’s life, separating her from her home and family as she spent months moving from safe house to safe house. (Alinejad is not named in the indictment, but confirmed that she was the target of the plot in an interview with The New York Times.) 

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