Czech Republic extradites suspect charged in Iran-backed plot to kill US-based government critic

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The Czech Republic on Wednesday extradited a suspect who has been charged by the Justice Department for plotting to kill a U.S.-based Iranian government critic on behalf of the Islamic Republic. 

Polad Omarov, who was arrested in the European country last January when the charges were announced, was handed over to U.S. authorities at Prague’s airport after exhausting all of his appeal options, Reuters is reporting, citing the Czech Justice Ministry. 

Rafat Amirov of Iran; Omarov of the Czech Republic and Slovenia; and Khalid Mehdiyev of Yonkers, New York, were all named and arrested in connection with the plot against Masih Alinejad, a former Iranian journalist who became a U.S. citizen in 2019. 

“The Victim in this case was targeted for exercising the rights to which every American citizen is entitled. The Victim publicized the Iranian Government’s human rights abuses; discriminatory treatment of women; suppression of democratic participation and expression; and use of arbitrary imprisonment, torture, and execution,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said at the time. 

3 INDIVIDUALS WITH TIES TO IRAN CHARGED IN ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT AGAINST US CITIZEN IN NEW YORK

Masih Alinejad

Journalist Masih Alinejad during an appearance on Fox News in October 2023. (Fox News)

“The Department of Justice will not tolerate attempts by an authoritarian regime to undermine those protections and the rule of law upon which our democracy is based. We will not tolerate attempts by a foreign power to threaten, silence, or harm Americans,” he added. “We will stop at nothing to identify, find, and bring to justice those who endanger the safety of the American people.” 

Officials said the assassination plot was the second attempt by Iran to target Alinejad. The FBI thwarted a 2021 kidnapping attempt by Tehran to try and forcibly bring her back to Iran.  

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Iranian dissident Masih Alinejad smiles on stage while gesturing with her hand

Masih Alinejad speaks in New York City in October 2018. (Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Women in Cable Telecommunications)

The three suspects are facing murder-for-hire and money laundering charges. 

Mehdiyev was arrested in 2022 after he was found driving around Alinejad’s Brooklyn neighborhood with a loaded rifle and dozens of rounds of ammunition. Alinejad told The Associated Press at the time that authorities told her the man was looking for her, and that a home security video had caught him hanging outside her front door. 

Merrick Garland sitting

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Alinejad was “targeted for exercising the rights to which every American citizen is entitled.” (Eduardo Munoz/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

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Garland said “individuals in Iran” had tasked the defendants with carrying out the plot to kill the activist. 

Fox News’ Caitlin McFall, David Spunt and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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