The Justice Department has charged three men in a plot to kill an Iranian American author and activist who has spoken out against human rights abuses in Iran, officials said Friday.
The men, Rafat Amirov, 43, of Iran, Polad Omarov, 38, of the Czech Republic and Slovenia and Khalid Mehdiyev, 24, of Yonkers, New York, were charged with money laundering and murder-for-hire in a superseding indictment unsealed in federal court in New York.
All of the men are in custody, either in New York or abroad. They were part of an eastern European gang working on behalf of the Iranian government and targeted her because she was so outspoken against Iran, authorities say. Since July, the men have been communicating with one another and targeting her, spying on her house, speaking with family members, and sending reports back to Iran, according to the Justice Department.
The Justice Department did not name the author, but Masih Alinejad posted to Twitter confirming that she was the target.
“I just learned that the FBI arrested three men in New York who are trying to kill me on U.S. soil,” she said in a video she posted to Twitter. “This is the face of a person who was the target of an assassination plot. Let me make it clear. I’m not scared for my life because I knew that killing, assassinating, hanging, torturing, raping is in the DNA of the Islamic Republic. And that’s why I came to the United States of America, to practice my right, my freedom of expression, to give voice to brave people of Iran who say no to Islamic Republic. Right now, I’m calling on U.S. government to take strong action.”
The same government trying to assassinate her has killed and arrested protesters, she continued.
“You cannot negotiate with a terrorist regime,” she said.