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Iran says U.S. claim of kidnapping plot is 'baseless, ridiculous'

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By Reuters
Iran says U.S. claim of kidnapping plot is 'baseless, ridiculous'
Iran says U.S. claim of kidnapping plot is 'baseless, ridiculous'   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021
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DUBAI -Iran rejected as “ridiculous and baseless” the United States’ claim of Tehran’s involvement in plotting to kidnap a New York journalist and human rights activist who was critical of the Islamic Republic, Iranian state media reported on Wednesday.

“This new claim by the U.S. government … is so baseless and ridiculous that it is not really worth answering,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh.

A Justice Department indictment unsealed on Tuesday showed that U.S. prosecutors have charged four Iranians, alleged to be intelligence operatives for Tehran, with plotting to kidnap the activist. The indictment did not name the target of the plot, but Reuters has confirmed that she is Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad.

“This is not the first time that the United States has undertaken such Hollywood scenarios,” Khatibzadeh said.

Iran’s intelligence services have in the past detained opposition figures and journalists abroad, including the 2020 arrest of Jamshid Sharmahd, a U.S.-based leader of a pro-monarchist group whom Tehran accused of being behind a deadly 2008 bombing and of plotting other attacks.

Iran did not say how or where Sharmahd, who is in jail in Iran, was detained.

In October 2019, Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards Corps said it had trapped Paris-based dissident journalist Ruhollah Zam in a “complex operation using intelligence deception”. It did not say where the operation took place.

Zam, who was convicted of fomenting violence during anti-government protests in 2017, was executed in Iran in 2020.

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