NEW YORK (AP) — A California woman implicated her unwitting role Thursday in a failed plot to kidnap a prominent Iranian dissident living in New York City and bring her back to Tehran. and pleaded guilty.
US prosecutors have not accused Niloufar Bahadorifar of participating in a plot to kidnap Masih Alinejad, a journalist and vocal critic of the Iranian government’s treatment of women and other issues.
But officials say the four Iranians who plotted to kidnap the activist paid an American private investigator to keep an eye on her, with Bahadrifal acting as an intermediary.
Bahadri Farr pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges to violate US economic sanctions against Iran by helping to fund investigators.
Her lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, told the New York Times that Bahadrifar himself was a victim of the “cancer” Iranian regime.
“When Iran’s terrorist leaders aren’t slaughtering their own people, they are traveling the world trying to kill their critics. Among them is the dastardly manipulation of Mr. Bahadrifal by an old family friend. It is included.”
Bahadorifar said in court that he was unaware that the money was used to pay investigators to conduct surveillance. She told the judge that she had sent her funds to investigators via her PayPal on behalf of a senior Iranian government official who was a longtime friend of her family.
Last year, Iranian intelligence agents were indicted in New York for kidnapping Alinejad and trying to bring him back to Iran.
The private investigator, who also didn’t know his employer was actually an Iranian agent, later cooperated with the FBI and was never indicted.
Alinejad became a US citizen in 2019 after working as a journalist in Iran for many years. She fled the country after being contested in the 2009 presidential election and became a prominent figure on Persian-language satellite channels abroad criticizing Iran.
U.S. officials are investigating whether Alinejad was targeted in a second plan after the first was interrupted.
Last summer, police arrested a man with an assault rifle and dozens of rounds of ammunition near her Brooklyn home. Alinejad said her home security video showed a man outside the front door.
Bahadorifar will be sentenced on April 7th.
Iran carried out a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters who took to the streets in September after the death of a 22-year-old woman detained by morality police.
https://www.dailynews.com/2022/12/16/woman-admits-to-unwittingly-funding-iran-critic-kidnap-plot-2-2/ California woman admits she unknowingly funded Iran critic kidnapping plot – Daily News