U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said an Iranian American journalist targeted in what the Justice Department called an Iranian kidnapping plot “has demonstrated tremendous courage.”
Blinken tweeted Monday that he had a “good conversation” with Masih Alinejad, a VOA Persian TV host and outspoken Iranian government critic.
“I affirmed that the U.S. will always support the indispensable work of independent journalists around the world,” Blinken posted. “We won’t tolerate efforts to intimidate them or silence their voices.”
Alinejad said she and Blinken spoke for 15 minutes, and that the top U.S. diplomat found that the idea Iran would abduct her from U.S. soil “particularly egregious.”
“Secretary Blinken said the Biden Administration takes Islamic Republic's threats very, very seriously and was aware of how the Tehran regime targets dissidents in the U.S and in Europe,” Alinejad tweeted. “He reassured me that the U.S. would hold the regime accountable for this plot.”
Last week, the U.S. Justice Department said a New York federal court unsealed an indictment charging five Iranian nationals with involvement in the alleged plot 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 [Iranian] regime’s laws and practices.” The Justice Department press release did not name the target of the scheme.
Alinejad, who lives in New York City’s Brooklyn borough, later confirmed on her social media accounts that she was the targeted person.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh dismissed the U.S. allegation, saying in comments published by Iranian state media it is a “baseless and ridiculous accusation unworthy of a response.”
Alinejad worked as a journalist in Iran in the 2000s, writing articles exposing government mismanagement and corruption until authorities revoked her press pass and threatened her with arrest. She fled her homeland in 2009, first to Britain, before settling in New York in 2014.