An Iranian intelligence officer and three alleged members of an Iranian intelligence network were charged in New York with plotting to kidnap a prominent opposition activist and writer in exile and take her back to Tehran, authorities said this week. The White House plans to continue Iranian nuclear talks and a “diplomatic path forward”, even as they condemn Tehran’s “dangerous and abhorrent” alleged plot to kidnap a US citizen on US soil.
The identities of the alleged victims were not released, but Brooklyn-based Masih Alinejad confirmed that officers had told her she was among the targeted victims.
The White House on Wednesday did not take note of the specific allegations of conspiracy, but condemned the action.
“We strongly condemn Iran’s dangerous and despicable alleged plot to kidnap an American citizen on American soil, and we will firmly defend American citizens and American interests,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Wednesday. “This includes law enforcement actions such as the actions announced yesterday, as well as actions the president has taken to protect US forces in the region from Iranian-backed terrorist groups.”
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Saki said it also included the administration’s “diplomatic efforts to disrupt Iran’s nuclear programme”, calling it one of his “most important and urgent actions”.
“This is an attempt to silence the voices of those working in peace to address the situation inside Iran and outside Iran,” Saki continued. “We will continue to speak out against it, and of course, law enforcement officials will take the appropriate steps.”
Saki was asked whether the plot would have any effect on the Biden administration’s Iran nuclear talks.
“Well, it’s still there,” she said. “We have never judged Iran to be a good actor in the world, not only by this plot to kidnap an American man living in the US, but by their active ties to the region, which we are deeply concerned about, And the president has retaliated,” Saki said.
He added, however, that “at the same time, we still see it, we will continue to pursue those negotiations, moving down the diplomatic route.”
Iran has become more aggressive in recent years about capturing opposition journalists and dissidents abroad amid tensions over its torn nuclear deal.