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Manhattan U.S. Legal professional Pronounces Kidnapping Conspiracy Expenses Towards An Iranian Intelligence Officer And Members Of An Iranian Intelligence Community | USAO-SDNY

Audrey Strauss, the US Legal professional for the Southern District of New York, Mark J. Lesko, the Appearing Assistant Legal professional Common for Nationwide Safety, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director in Cost of the New York Area Workplace of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), introduced the unsealing of kidnapping conspiracy, sanctions violations conspiracy, financial institution and wire fraud conspiracy, and cash laundering conspiracy fees in opposition to ALIREZA SHAVAROGHI FARAHANI, a/ok/a “Vezarat Salimi,” a/ok/a “Haj Ali,” MAHMOUD KHAZEIN, KIYA SADEGHI, and OMID NOORI, and sanctions violations conspiracy, financial institution and wire fraud conspiracy, cash laundering conspiracy, and structuring fees in opposition to NILOUFAR BAHADORIFAR, a/ok/a “Nellie Bahadorifar.”  The costs are contained in a Superseding Indictment unsealed at present in Manhattan federal courtroom.  The case is pending earlier than U.S. District Choose Ronnie Abrams.  BAHADORIFAR was arrested on July 1, 2021 in California on fees contained in an underlying indictment.  BAHADORIFAR shall be arraigned on the costs within the Superseding Indictment by Choose Abrams at a date and time to be set by the Court docket.  FARAHANI, KHAZEIN, SADEGHI, and NOORI, all of whom are based mostly in Iran, stay at giant.     

U.S. Legal professional Audrey Strauss mentioned: “As alleged, 4 of the defendants monitored and deliberate to kidnap a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin who has been vital of the regime’s autocracy, and to forcibly take their meant sufferer to Iran, the place the sufferer’s destiny would have been unsure at greatest.  Amongst this nation’s most cherished freedoms is the precise to talk one’s thoughts with out concern of presidency reprisal.  A U.S. citizen dwelling in the US should be capable of advocate for human rights with out being focused by overseas intelligence operatives.  Because of the FBI’s publicity of their alleged scheme, these defendants have did not silence criticism by forcible abduction.”

Appearing Assistant Legal professional Common Mark J. Lesko mentioned: “Each individual in the US should be free from harassment, threats and bodily hurt by overseas powers.  By way of this indictment, we deliver to mild one such pernicious plot to hurt an American citizen who was exercising their First Modification rights, and we commit ourselves to deliver the defendants to justice.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. mentioned: “This isn’t some far-fetched film plot. We allege a bunch, backed by the Iranian authorities, conspired to kidnap a U.S. based mostly journalist right here on our soil and forcibly return her to Iran. Not on our watch. FBI particular brokers and analysts will proceed to aggressively hunt for overseas operatives who try unlawful motion inside our borders or in opposition to our residents. Working side-by-side with our worldwide companions, the FBI’s attain is international. After we discover you, you can be introduced right here and held accountable underneath U.S. legislation.”

Based on the allegations contained within the Superseding Indictment, different courtroom filings, and statements made throughout courtroom proceedings:[1] 

FARAHANI is an Iranian intelligence official who resides in Iran.  KHAZEIN, SADEGHI, and NOORI are Iranian intelligence belongings who additionally reside in Iran.  Since a minimum of June 2020, FARAHANI, and the intelligence community he manages – together with KHAZEIN, SADEGHI, and NOORI – have plotted to kidnap a U.S. citizen of Iranian origin (“Sufferer-1”) from inside the US in furtherance of the Authorities of Iran’s efforts to silence Sufferer-1’s criticisms of the regime.  Sufferer-1 is a journalist, creator, and human rights activist, residing in Brooklyn, New York, who has publicized the Authorities of Iran’s human rights abuses. 

Previous to the plot to kidnap Sufferer-1 on U.S. soil, the Authorities of Iran tried to lure Sufferer-1 to a 3rd nation as a way to seize Sufferer-1 for rendition to Iran.  In roughly 2018, Iranian authorities officers tried to induce family of Sufferer-1, who reside in Iran, to ask Sufferer-1 to journey to a 3rd nation for the obvious objective of getting Sufferer-1 arrested or detained and transported to Iran for imprisonment.  Sufferer-1’s family didn’t settle for the provide.  Iranian intelligence providers have beforehand lured different Iranian dissidents from France and from the US for the needs of capturing and imprisoning regime critics and have publicly claimed duty for these seize operations.  An digital machine utilized by FARAHANI comprises, amongst different issues, a photograph of Sufferer-1 alongside photographs of two different people, each of whom had been captured by Iranian intelligence, with one later executed and the opposite imprisoned in Iran, and a caption in Farsi stating, “Regularly the gathering will get larger…  Are you coming, or ought to we come for you?”

On a number of events in 2020 and 2021, as a part of the plot to kidnap Sufferer-1, FARAHANI and his community procured the providers of personal investigators to surveil, {photograph}, and video document Sufferer-1 and Sufferer-1’s family members in Brooklyn.  The intensive surveillance that FARAHANI’s community procured included requests for days’ price of surveillance at Sufferer-1’s dwelling and the encircling space, movies and pictures of Sufferer-1’s household and associates, surveillance of Sufferer-1 outdoors Sufferer-1’s residence, and the set up of and entry to a reside high-definition video feed depicting Sufferer-1’s dwelling.  The community repeatedly insisted on high-quality images and video recordings of Sufferer-1 and Sufferer-1’s family members; a big quantity of content material; footage of holiday makers and objects round the home; and depictions of Sufferer-1’s physique language.  The community procured the surveillance by misrepresenting their identities and the aim of the surveillance to the investigators, and laundered cash into the US from Iran as a way to pay for the surveillance, photographs, and video recordings of Sufferer-1.  SADEGHI acted because the community’s main level of contact with the non-public investigators in the US, and NOORI facilitated cost to the investigators in furtherance of the plot focusing on Sufferer-1.

As a part of the kidnapping plot, the FARAHANI-led intelligence community additionally researched strategies of transporting Sufferer-1 out of the US for rendition to Iran.  SADEGHI, for instance, researched a service providing military-style speedboats for self-operated maritime evacuation out of New York Metropolis, and maritime journey from New York to Venezuela, a rustic whose de facto authorities has pleasant relations with Iran.  KHAZEIN researched journey routes from Sufferer-1’s residence to a waterfront neighborhood in Brooklyn, the situation of Sufferer-1’s residence relative to Venezuela, and the situation of Sufferer-1’s residence relative to Tehran.    

The community that FARAHANI directs has additionally focused victims in different international locations, together with victims in Canada, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates, and has labored to obtain comparable surveillance of these victims.

BAHADORIFAR is initially from Iran and is at the moment a California resident.  BAHADORIFAR has supplied monetary and different providers from the US to Iranian residents and entities, together with to KHAZEIN, since a minimum of in or about 2015, together with entry to the U.S. monetary system and U.S. monetary establishments by way of the usage of card accounts, and has supplied to handle enterprise pursuits in the US on KHAZEIN’s behalf.  Amongst different issues, BAHADORIFAR prompted a cost to be made to a non-public investigator for surveillance of Sufferer-1 on KHAZEIN’s behalf.  BAHADORIFAR is just not charged with collaborating within the kidnapping conspiracy, however is alleged to have supplied monetary providers that supported the plot and is charged with conspiring to violate sanctions in opposition to Iran, to commit financial institution and wire fraud, and to commit cash laundering.  BAHADORIFAR can be charged with structuring money deposits totaling greater than roughly $445,000.

*                *                *

ALIREZA SHAVAROGHI FARAHANI, 50, MAHMOUD KHAZEIN, 42, KIYA SADEGHI, 35, and OMID NOORI, 45, all of Iran, have every been charged with: (1) conspiring to kidnap, which carries a most sentence of life in jail (Depend One), (2) conspiring to violate the Worldwide Emergency Financial Powers Act and sanctions in opposition to the Authorities of Iran, which carries a most sentence of 20 years in jail (Depend Two), (3) conspiring to commit financial institution and wire fraud, which carries a most sentence of 30 years in jail (Depend Three), and (4) conspiring to launder cash, which carries a most sentence of 20 years in jail (Depend 4).  NILOUFAR BAHADORIFAR, 46, of California, is charged in Counts Two, Three, and 4, and is additional charged with structuring (Depend 5), which carries a most sentence of 10 years in jail.  The potential most sentences on this case are prescribed by Congress and supplied right here for informational functions solely, as any sentencing of the defendants shall be decided by Choose Abrams.

BAHADORIFAR was arrested on fees contained in an underlying indictment on July 1, 2021, and was arraigned by Choose Abrams on that indictment on July 8, 2021.  FARAHANI, KHAZEIN, SADEGHI, and NOORI stay at giant. 

Ms. Strauss praised the excellent investigative work of the FBI’s New York Area Workplace Counterintelligence-Cyber Division and the New York FBI Iran Risk Activity Power.  Ms. Strauss additionally thanked the New York Metropolis Police Division (“NYPD”) and the NYPD Intelligence Bureau, the FBI’s Los Angeles Area Workplace Orange County Resident Company, and the Division of Justice’s Nationwide Safety Division, Counterintelligence and Export Management Part, for his or her help.

This case is being dealt with by the Workplace’s Terrorism and Worldwide Narcotics Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael D. Lockard, Jacob H. Gutwillig, and Matthew J.C. Hellman are in command of the prosecution, with help from Trial Legal professional Nathan Swinton of the Counterintelligence and Export Management Part.

The costs within the Superseding Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed harmless except and till confirmed responsible.

 


[1] Because the introductory phrase signifies, the Superseding Indictment, and the outline of the Superseding Indictment set forth herein, represent solely allegations, and each reality described must be handled as an allegation.

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