A California woman admitted to being deceived — and unknowingly helping — by a group of Iranian agents in their failed mission to kidnap a Brooklyn journalist critical of Tehran.
Niloufar Bahadorifar is not accused of taking part in the 2021 plot to kidnap Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad, but prosecutors said she unknowingly acted as an intermediary for four Iranians – all indicted by the FBI – and an American private investigator, the they hired to arrest him eyes on the targeted journalist.
Bahadorifar told the court she sent money to the investigator on behalf of a longtime family friend who is a government official in Iran.
The money was sent through PayPal, but she claimed she was unaware that the money was being used to surveil Alinejad, who has heavily criticized the Islamic Republic for its human rights abuses.
Bahadorifar pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to violate US economic sanctions on Iran.
Bahadorifar’s lawyer insisted to the New York Times that his client was just another victim of a “malicious Iranian regime”.
“When the Iranian terrorist leaders are not slaughtering their own people,” said Jeffrey Lichtman, “they are traveling around the world trying to kill their critics, including the heinous manipulation of Ms. Bahadorifar by an old family friend.”
The private investigator, who was not charged, said he had no idea the people he works for were Iranian agents and worked with the FBI.
Alinejad, who became a US citizen in 2019, fled Iran after the 2009 presidential election.
An Iranian agent and three others in her case were not taken into custody because they are believed to be in Iran, prosecutors said, according to the Times. You have denied the allegations.
Police arrested another man near Alinejad’s home last summer with a loaded assault rifle. Alinejad said footage she posted from a camera showed the suspect outside her door in Brooklyn.
Bahadorifar will be sentenced on April 7th.
With postal wires
https://nypost.com/2022/12/16/niloufar-bahadorifar-pleads-guilty-in-case-tied-to-journalist-masih-alinejad/ Niloufar Bahadorifar pleads guilty in connection with journalist Masih Alinejad