Iran Bashes U.S. Accusation it Seeks to Kidnap Abroad Citizens as a 'Hollywood-Style' Plot

Iran has bashed a U.S. accusation that the country seeks to kidnap Iranian citizens abroad as a "Hollywood-style" plot, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

Saeed Khatibzadeh's comments were carried by Iran's ISNA news agency on Wednesday after U.S. federal authorities announced charges against four Iranians on Tuesday for allegedly conspiring to kidnap an Iranian opposition activist and journalist as well as a few others living outside of Iran, the Associated Press reported. Khatibzadeh called the allegations "baseless and ridiculous."

"Making such an imaginary story is not unlikely by the U.S. Its entire short history is full of assassination, kidnapping and sabotage in other countries," he said about the alleged plot to kidnap citizens critiquing Iran.

A Manhattan federal court indictment reveals an alleged plan to lure the opposition activist and four others to Iran as well as some living in the United Arab Emirates. The indictment notes how Iran's intelligence forces previously apprehended and executed an exiled Iranian journalist living in Paris in 2020.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh bashed U.S. accusations that Iran seeks to kidnap citizens living abroad. In this photo, Khatibzadeh gestures during a press conference in Tehran on Feb. 22, 2021. Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. authorities, quoting from an indictment, said the individuals plotted to kidnap a prominent Iranian opposition activist and writer in exile and take her to Tehran.

Khatibzadeh derided the plot as accusations unworthy of a response.

The indictment described the plot as part of a wider plan to lure three individuals in Canada and a fifth person in the United Kingdom to Iran along with a few others.

The identities of the alleged victims were not released but Brooklyn-based Masih Alinejad confirmed that authorities had told her she was among the targets.

"I knew that this is the nature of the Islamic Republic, you know, kidnapping people, arresting people, torturing people, killing people. But I couldn't believe it that this is going to happen to me in the United States of America," Alinejad told the Associated Press.

Alinejad, who worked for years as a journalist in Iran, long has been targeted by its theocracy after fleeing the country following its disputed 2009 presidential election and crackdown.

She is a prominent figure on Farsi-language satellite channels abroad that critically view Iran and has worked as a contractor for U.S.-funded Voice of America's Farsi-language network since 2015. She became a U.S. citizen in October 2019.