NEW YORK — An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Wednesday that accusations by U.S. authorities that Iran is plotting to kidnap Iranians abroad who criticize the country are “baseless and ridiculous.”
The spokesman, Saeed Khatibzadeh, was quoted by Iran’s semiofficial ISNA news agency a day after U.S. federal authorities in New York announced criminal charges against four Iranian intelligence operatives.
The authorities, quoting from an indictment, say the individuals plotted to kidnap a prominent Iranian opposition activist and writer in exile and take her to Tehran.
Khatibzadeh derided the plot as “Hollywood-style scenarios” and “baseless and ridiculous” accusations unworthy of a response.
“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,” Khatibzadeh said.
The indictment in Manhattan federal court described the plot as part of a wider plan to lure three individuals in Canada and a fifth person in the United Kingdom, along with individuals in the United Arab Emirates, to Iran.
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 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.
Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.