The authorities did not name the target of the assassination plot, but it is believed to be journalist and activist Masih Alinejad, is known for her criticism of the Iranian regime.
A US federal court indicted on Friday three men accused of plotting to murder a US citizen who had been previously targeted by the Iranian government.
Though the Justice Department did not name the victim, journalist and activist Masih Alinejad confirmed to the AP news agency she was the target of the murder plot.
Rafat Amirov of Iran, Polad Omarov of the Czech Republic and Khalid Mehdiyev of New York were charged with murder-for-hire and money laundering, the US Department of Justice said in a statement. The three were described as members of an Eastern European criminal organization with ties to Iran.
What do we know about the plot?
Mehdiyev was arrested in July last year after surveilling the victim's house, while in possession of an AK-47. Omarov was arrested in the Czech Republic on January 4. The US will request his extradition. Amirov meanwhile arrived in New York on Thursday, while he resides in Iran.
"As alleged, the defendants are members of an organized crime group hired to assassinate, right here in New York City, a US citizen of Iranian origin who has been critical of the regime's autocracy and its disregard for human rights,” said US Attorney Damian Williams for the Southern District of New York.
If convicted, Amirov and Omarov could face up to 40 years in prison, the Justice Department said. Mehdiyev could be sentenced to up to five more years for the arms possession charge, totalling up to 45 years.
What do we know about the victim?
Alinejad tweeted on Friday, saying she was aware of the indictment of three men hired to kill her on US soil.
"The Islamic Revolutionary Guards have been conducting these terrorist operations for four decades," she said.
US attorney Williams said that this was the second time in two years that the FBI had foiled plots against the same person.
In 2021, Iranian intelligence officials and assets allegedly plotted to kidnap Alinejad in the US.
The US authorities have yet to provide details on a possible link between the murder plot and the Iranian government.
Alinejad is known for her criticism of Iran's Islamic regime. She is the founder of My Stealthy Freedom movement, which encourages women in Iran to take off their hijabs.
Iran has been gripped with nationwide protests since the death of 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman, while in moral police custody last September.
Second publication by courtesy of Deutsche Welle, Original-Text