Man arrested with rifle outside NY home of Iranian-American journalist

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, a Federal Bureau of Investigation 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, according to the complaint.

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.

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

Tehran has dismissed allegations of government involvement in the kidnapping plot as “baseless.”

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.

But 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.

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