Two US Senators are introducing legislation to impose sanctions on Iran over an attempt by Iranian intelligence to kidnap journalist and activist Masih Alinejad earlier in the year.
The Iranian-born Alinejad, who is an American citizen, was targeted in a planned abduction by Iranian agents in the US that was foiled by law enforcement.
Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) announced that their legislation would be used to hold Iran accountable for the attempted abduction, and serve to prevent future attempts at similar plots inside the US. It would impose sanctions on the individuals involved in the attempt to kidnap Alinejad, as well as initiating secondary sanctions against banks who conduct business with them, Reuters reported.
“The Iranian regime's attempt to kidnap Masih Alinejad – a US citizen – on US soil is a brazen escalation, and it requires a proportional response,” Toomey said on Twitter. “That's why Senator Cardin and I are introducing new sanctions legislation to hold Iran accountable and deter future attacks.”
Cardin said that the sanctions were important because “the US must exercise leadership against authoritarian regimes attempting to silence dissidents beyond its borders.”
“The brazen attempt by the Iranian regime to kidnap Masih Alinejad on US soil cannot go unchallenged,” Cardin tweeted.
In July, federal prosecutors charged four Iranian operatives with the attempted plot to kidnap Alinejad. Iran has denied the allegations, calling the charges “baseless.”
“If you dare to attempt to come to our nation and kidnap an American citizen, there will be dire consequences,” Cardin said at a Washington DC press conference alongside Toomey and Alinejad.
Alinejad told reporters that she had come out of hiding for the event.
While it is not certain if the bill will be able to pass Congress and become law, Toomey said he was “cautiously optimistic.”