Man arrested with rifle outside New York home of Iranian-American journalist

3 minute read

Masih Alinejad, Iranian journalist and women's rights activist, speaks on stage at the Women In The World Summit in New York, U.S, April 12, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, Aug 1 (Reuters) - An Iranian-American journalist and women's rights activist said it was "shocking" to learn that a man had been arrested last week with a loaded AK-47 rifle outside her Brooklyn, New York, home.

The journalist, Masih Alinejad, last year was said to be the target of a Tehran-backed kidnapping plot. Alinejad has promoted videos of women violating Iran's head covering law to her millions of social media followers.

Khalid Mehdiyev spent two days last week outside the home, and at one point attempted to open the door, an FBI agent wrote in a complaint filed in Manhattan federal court on Friday. Police stopped him after he ran a stop sign and found the gun in the back seat of the car, according to the complaint.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Alinejad said she saw the incident as an attempt on her life by Tehran.

"What the Iranian regime did, first trying to kidnap me and now sending someone here trying to kill me, it's a pattern. It's a continuation of their way of oppressing dissidents inside and outside Iran," she told Reuters.

"I'm not scared of them and I'm going to continue my fight against gender apartheid. Because I didn't do anything wrong, I'm not a criminal, my crime is just giving voice to voiceless people," she said.

Iran's mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Tehran has dismissed allegations of government involvement in the kidnapping plot as "baseless." read more

The complaint did not identify Alinejad, but she confirmed to Reuters that the home in question was hers. She said she was now in a safe location.

U.S. prosecutors last year charged four Iranians, alleged to be intelligence operatives for Tehran, with plotting to kidnap Alinejad, who has contributed to the U.S. government-funded Voice of America Persian language service and reports on human rights issues in Iran. read more

Mehdiyev was charged with possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number. A judge ordered him detained without bail at a Friday afternoon hearing, court records show. Mehdiyev's lawyer declined to comment.

After his arrest, Mehdiyev initially told law enforcement agents he did not know anything about the assault rifle and that he was in Brooklyn looking for a new apartment, according to the complaint.

He later told investigators that the AK-47 was his and that he was in Brooklyn "looking for someone," the complaint read. Mehdiyev then asked for a lawyer and declined to answer further questions.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
Reporting by Luc Cohen in New York and Joel Schectman in Washington Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Reports on the New York federal courts. Previously worked as a correspondent in Venezuela and Argentina.