Man with loaded AK-47 arrested outside home of Iranian journalist in New York

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A man has been arrested after he was found with an assault rifle outside the New York City home of an Iranian-American journalist who had criticized the Iranian regime.

The journalist, 45-year-old Masih Alinejad, was the target of a kidnapping plot by Iranian intelligence services last year, according to US prosecutors.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, suspect Khalid Mehdiyev was seen acting suspiciously outside a Brooklyn home, the FBI said in documents filed with a Manhattan criminal court.

He was detained by New York police officers who found a loaded AK-47 and about 66 ammunition in his Subaru car, the report said.

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Feminist activist Alinejad was not named in the documents, but confirmed on Twitter that the man had been outside her home.

“These are the scary scenes that capture a man who tried to enter my New York home with a loaded gun to kill me,” Alinejad wrote, posting CCTV footage of a man on her porch.

“Last year, the FBI prevented the Islamic Republic from kidnapping me. My crime is to give voiceless people a voice. The US government must take a tough line on terror,” she added.

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Mehdiyev was charged with possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number and was held by a judge without bail.

Alinejad, the dual US-Iranian citizen, is known for her criticism of Iran’s clerical regime, including its demand that women be veiled.

She founded the My Stealthy Freedom movement, which encourages women to take off their hijabs.

In July last year, the US Department of Justice unveiled charges against four Iranian intelligence agents, who allegedly planned to seize the dissident and smuggle it into Iran.

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According to the indictment, in 2018, intelligence officers first tried to force relatives of their kidnapped target to lure her to a third country for arrest and to be taken to Iran for detention.

They then went on to monitor the victim and other members of her Brooklyn household “several times in 2020 and 2021,” the Justice Department statement said.

A fifth person in California was charged with funding the alleged operation.

Iran called the US allegations “baseless and absurd”.

pdh/caw

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