An Iranian-born American woman has been jailed in connection with a conspiracy to kidnap an Iranian dissident
The Justice Department announced on Monday that a lady who was born in Iran and now lives in the United States was given a four-year jail term for contributing money to a scheme to abduct the dissident Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad.
In December, Niloufar Bahadorifar, 48, of Irvine, California, entered a plea of guilty to many offenses, including conspiracy to break US sanctions by providing Iran with material support.
According to the Justice Department, US District Judge Ronnie Abrams sentenced Bahadorifar to four years in prison on Friday, followed by three years of supervised release.
US attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that Bahadorifar “provided financial support to a brazen plot intended to kidnap an Iranian human rights activist living in the United States whom the Iranian government has sought to silence for years.”
Mahmoud Khazein, an alleged Iranian intelligence agent, hired private investigators to spy on Alinejad on his behalf, and Bahadorifar was found guilty of smuggling Iranian money into the United States.
The FBI is seeking Khazein and three other alleged Iranian agents in connection with the alleged scheme to kidnap Alinejad, a resident of New York, and extradite her to Iran.
Bahadorifar is charged with depositing more than $476,100 in cash into US accounts since 2019 while structuring the majority of the transfers in increments of less than $10,000 in an effort to evade financial regulators in the US.
Bahadorifar was not charged with taking part in the actual kidnapping plot, and her attorneys claimed that she was a simple victim.
According to Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen, “the government of Iran has demonstrated that it will go to great lengths to silence dissidents and critics around the world who are exercising their legal rights, including through the use of violence on US soil.”
“We hold accountable a person who violated US sanctions by giving financial support to a botched kidnapping plot orchestrated by the Iranian government,” the statement reads.
According to US investigators, Alinejad was also the target of a different assassination attempt that was supported by Tehran. Alinejad is well known for her criticism of the Islamic dictatorship in Iran, notably its insistence that women wear veils.
The claimed plots against Alinejad have been refuted by Iranian authorities.