- The Justice Department accused Iran of an audacious plot to kidnap an activist from Brooklyn.
Masih Alinejad exposed abuse in Iran and ran a viral page opposed to its compulsory hijab laws.
The FBI said that Iran responded by surveiling her home and plotting to abduct her.
In a Facebook post on July 10, days before details of an audacious alleged plot by Iranian agents to kidnap her was made public, activist Masih Alinejad described the harassment and intimidation she had faced from the regime.
“As an Iranian woman, do you think I’m safe outside of Iran campaigning against compulsory hijab ? You’re wrong,” she wrote.
Her campaigning – often in the form of viral smartphone video shared on her My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page– attracted an audience of millions for often brutal suppression of women defying strict Iranian modesty laws.
“I’ve been on the receiving end of bullying and threats from the regime on a daily basis,” she said.
She describes how her family members in Iran had been targeted, and said lies and smears about her had been spread by Iranian state media.
Allies of the Iranian regime in Washington, DC, threatened her with arrest when she tried to file a formal complaint, she said.
But Tuesday’s announcement by the Department of Justice of the alleged plot appeared to unveil a dramatic escalation of Iran’s campaign to silence her.
According to the indictment, Iranian agents hired a private security company to surveil her home in Brooklyn.
One of the accused plotters, it said, considered spiriting her away in a speed boat to Venezuela, an ally of Iran where she would be largely beyond the reach of US action.
The FBI has released these pictures of the suspects in the plot, who face kidnapping and conspiracy charges.
Alinejad told Reuters Tuesday she had been aware of the plot for about 8 months, and had been taken to a series of safe houses while the FBI investigated.
Her high-profile campaigns against compulsory head coverings for women in Iran, and to raise awareness of the brutality faced by dissidents in Iran, were what likely attracted the ire of the Iranian government.
In 2014 she started My Stealthy Freedom, where Iranian women are invited to share pictures of themselves without the hijab in defiance of the state’s hardline Islamic laws.
In her 2018 autobiography, “The Wind in My Hair,” she described her journey from impoverished rural childhood to fearless journalist whose exposés of government corruption led her to flee for refuge in the US.
In one incident she got into an argument with a cleric in the Iranian parliament who criticized her for allowing a strand of hair to appear from her head covering.
Her campaigning earned her acclaim and a raft of awards, including one from the 2015 Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, which honored her struggle for the “basic human rights, freedom and dignity” of Iranian women.
But her work has also attracted criticism. The Intercept last year highlighted comments she’d given in support of some of the Trump administration’s hardline anti-Iran policies while working as a contractor for the government-backed Voice of America Persian service.
In 2019 remarks before the Canadian parliament, she responded to critics who argue that anti-hijab campaigns stoke Islamophobia.
“Have you ever lived in countries where you experienced ‘womonophobia?'” she wrote
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Original News : https://news.yahoo.com/activist-iran-accused-plotting-kidnap-120253467.html