WASHINGTON: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (pix) offered support Monday to an Iranian-American journalist after prosecutors say Tehran plotted to kidnap her in New York.
“Good conversation today with @AlinejadMasih, who has demonstrated tremendous courage,“ Blinken tweeted after talking with Masih Alinejad, a journalist known for her criticism of the clerical state including its requirement that women veil themselves.
“I affirmed that the U.S. will always support the indispensable work of independent journalists around the world. We won’t tolerate efforts to intimidate them or silence their voices,“ Blinken added.
Alinejad wrote on Twitter after the virtual meeting that Blinken told her the United States “will pursue the kidnapping case of a citizen on American soil.”
Alinejad said she thanked Blinken for the call and urged him to take action on behalf of Western nationals who are in prison in Iran.
The United States should “unite with Europe and take serious action against a regime that kidnaps and murders,“ she wrote.
She also encouraged Blinken to “hear the voices of the various political groups” in Iran as President Joe Biden’s administration holds indirect talks with the Middle Eastern nation to revive a 2015 nuclear accord.
The State Department says it is pressing for the release of all Americans as it also looks to resume the agreement trashed by former president Donald Trump, under which Tehran drastically scaled back nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief.
According to a federal indictment last week, Iranian intelligence officers tried in 2018 to force Alinejad’s Iran-based relatives to lure her to a third country to be arrested and taken to Iran to be imprisoned.
When that failed, they hired US private investigators to surveil her during the past two years.
The White House condemned the plot, but Iran denied it, saying Washington creates “Hollywood scenarios.” — AFP